Lebanon's Dylan Williams didn’t let a rocky start spoil his evening.
Three of the first six Salem Post 20 batters Williams faced in American Legion Area III baseball game recorded extra-base hits on June 14. But the recent Lebanon High School graduate then found his groove, allowing just two total hits the rest of the way in a 7-2 Mid-Valley win.
Williams went all nine innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks while plunking two.
“I was just trusting my teammates, throwing strikes and getting people out,” said Williams, a right-hander. “I knew my team had my back. They were making great plays behind me and giving me confidence.”
It’s the third straight win for the Rockets (4-1, 2-1), who had a doubleheader with Post 20 on Wednesday at Western Oregon.
Williams was also effective in his first start for the Rockets, allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings against Portland. The Rockets wound up dropping a 3-2 decision in 10 innings.
Mid-Valley coach Troy Babbitt felt Williams built on his first outing.
“He threw strikes,” Babbitt said. “Dylan mixed it up with his pitches, kept them off-balanced and made them hit the ball in pitcher’s counts. He did a great job.”
Lefty Matt Lester took the loss for Post 20, giving up five runs on nine hits in five innings.
Jon Gederos, Bennett Markley, Jacob Miller and Alex Pynes all had two hits for the Rockets. Jayce Lien and Jordan Luttrell had two RBIs apiece.
The Dirtbags grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI triple by Sam Swenson before Mid-Valley went ahead for good in the third.
Brenden Bliss recovered from an 0-2 count to draw a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a single by Gederos. Lien brought home Bliss with a sacrifice fly to center for the inning's first run.
Four straight two-out singles by Markley, Miller, Pynes and Luttrell scored the final three, putting Mid-Valley up 4-1. Markley, Pynes and Luttrell's hits were all run-scoring.
“It was huge getting some momentum to take later into the game,” Williams said. “It definitely helped me on the mound.”
The lead grew to 5-1 in the fifth when Luttrell singled home Markley.
After Swenson's RBI single in the sixth, Mid-Valley added some insurance in the eighth.
Pynes led off with a double and scored on an error. Lien extended the lead to 7-2 by plating Luttrell with a sacrifice fly.
Babbitt said he’s impressed with the team’s start to the season.
“We have a group with a lot of experience,” the coach said. “They have been through the grind and they understand the difference between playing seven and nine innings and what that means.”