PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Phillies prospect Luke Williams is having a stretch of baseball he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
The Phils were one out from a frustrating, listless 1-0, four-hit loss to the Atlanta Braves Wednesday night, but the 24-year-old hit a walk-off two-run home run off Braves closer Will Smith for a 2-1 victory.
Williams sent an 81-mile-an-hour slider from Smith over the left-field fence, thrilling fans, the Phillies and his family. It was his first major league home run in his first big league start after getting called up from Triple-A earlier in the week.
Starting pitcher Zach Eflin, who delivered six innings of one-run ball, watched the homer in awe from the Phillies training room.
“We kinda spoke it into existence,” Eflin said. “We’re like, ‘He’s gonna do it right here. Captain America is gonna end this right here.’ And then the next pitch he just clubbed it.”
Eflin gave Williams the unofficial nickname “Captain America” days after he helped Team USA qualify for the Olympics.
“If you guys wanna run with it, that’s fine,” Eflin said of the moniker, “but he played pretty well with USA and now he’s here doing his thing.”
Williams won’t be making the trip to Tokyo because he’s now fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a Major League Baseball player. And, Williams’ family got to be in the ballpark for every second.
Williams said his parents, Mark and Jeannine, flew back from Florida after the Olympic qualifiers only to get on another plane to Philadelphia. His sister Samantha flew in from Iowa and one of his brothers, Ike, from Utah. His other brother, Jake, wasn’t in the country and was held up by COVID-19 testing.
After some water and ice baths, Williams got choked up when asked what it meant for his family to be there.
“You’re gonna make me cry,” he said on the NBC Sports Philadelphia telecast. “Just can’t even explain it. It’s pretty awesome.”
Ahead of Thursday’s series finale against the Braves, the Phillies are 29-31 in 60 games. That kind of pace of winning and losing won’t get them to the playoffs. Could this be something that sparks them?
“For Luke to come up and club a two-run homer, that’s absolutely momentum-shifting heading into tomorrow,” Eflin added. “We’re fired up. It very easily could be one of those moments in a season.”