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Williams goes the distance in first high school start, Woodrow beats Greenbrier East

Mar. 22—Last summer, Beckley's 14-year-old Babe Ruth League team made history by becoming the first in the city's history to ever play in the World Series.

Now it seems Woodrow Wilson is going to reap the benefits.

Freshman Brady Williams pitched a complete game in his first high school start, classmate Drew Gallaher delivered a key two-run single and the Flying Eagles defeated Greenbrier East 4-2 Friday night at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

Williams and Gallaher were both on that Babe Ruth team that won the Ohio Valley Regional in July. And they're not alone with Woodrow putting a young team on the field this year. Gage Price, who started at catcher on Friday, was also Williams' and Gallaher's teammate last summer.

"Babe Ruth was a well-coached team. Coach Jamie (Wilhite) is a great coach and prepared us, all the freshmen, for high school," Williams said. "Just everyone on this team. He did a great job. World Series. Remarkable."

On this night, Williams was just as remarkable.

Relying largely on his curveball, the right-hander struck out 11 batters while giving up just three hits. He became the second freshman to pitch a perfect game for the Flying Eagles (2-1) this season. Gallaher did it in a 10-0 win over James Monroe last Friday.

"Shoutout to my brother, who worked on it and worked on it with me since I was young," Williams said, referring to former Woodrow standout Logan Williams. "Preparation is key."

"He's a heck of a freshman," second-year Woodrow coach Mike McKinney said.

"We told him we were going to throw him into the fire right away, and we did."

Williams overcame an early hiccup when he hit Peyton DeHaven with the first pitch of the game and then balked him to second. DeHaven then scored on a one-out single by Ashton Cochran.

Williams then got the next two batters to strike out looking — a theme for the night — and get himself into a groove.

Eight of the Spartans' 11 strikeouts came on called third strikes. Williams threw 101 pitches, 63 for strikes.

The top of the order came through for Williams and Woodrow for a three-run third inning.

With one out, leadoff hitter Jackson Gambrell and two-hole hitter Chase Tolliver hit back-to-back singles, and both advanced on Ty Evans' flyout to deep left. Maddex Sims then walked to load the bases.

Blake Nixon hit a chopper about 10 feet in front of the plate. Pitcher Gavin Bennett came in to field the ball, but catcher Logan Hudson also went after it, eliminating any chance of forcing Gambrell at home.

Bennett threw to first but Nixon beat it out and the inning went on with the Flying Eagles tying the game at 1-1.

Gallaher then lined an 0-1 pitch up the middle to drive in Tolliver and Sims. Nixon was thrown out trying to advance from first to third to end the inning, but Woodrow was ahead 3-1.

"The top of the lineup was key," Williams said. "We just hit the ball and performed well. That's all we need."

The Spartans (1-3) got it to 3-2 with one out in the fourth. Left-handed Layne Lambert hit a ball in the gap that got past the center fielder and right fielder and rolled all the way to the wall. Lambert raced around for an inside-the-park home run.

The inning ended with a key defensive play when Bennett, who reached on an infield single to follow Lambert's homer, was doubled up at first after Sims caught Nelson Lynch's line drive at third and fired across the diamond.

Woodrow got it back in the fifth when Gambrell scored on Sims' sacrifice fly.

Bennett pitched well over six innings except for the third, when the Flying Eagles came up with four of their eight hits. He only walked one batter and struck out 10 — four in the second inning. Nixon struck out but reached on a wild pitch and Price reached on a passed ball after striking out.

"They got that big inning and they hit him well," Spartans coach Cory Mann said. "More or less, they hit the ball and we struck out 11 times. We've got to cut down on strikeouts. We've been striking out way too much. That's a big emphasis right now."

Williams gave up a two-out single to Lynch in the seventh but struck DeHaven out swinging to end it.

"He threw well," Mann said. "Struck us out 11 times. As a freshman, that's got to be encouraging for them and their program, and we respect that."

East is scheduled to travel to Nicholas County on Saturday to take on the Grizzlies and Fairmont.

Woodrow, meanwhile, will stay at home on Saturday to play Summers County at noon and James Monroe at 2 p.m.

"What people don't see is what they do behind the scenes," McKinney said. "The work in the weight room. Countless hours in the weight room. Three days a week in the weight room, and they work out on their own, too. I see most of them at the gym all the time. They're workhorses."