Matt Williams

Owatonna’s Matt Williams fouls off a pitch against the Rochester Redhawks in the third inning of a legion baseball game at Dartts Park on Thursday night. (Jon Weisbrod/People’s Press)

Sam Henson came up big in his first start of the season and fellow lefty, Willie VonRuden, continued to baffle Big Nine Conference hitters in Owatonna’s 3-2 victory over the Rochester Redhawks (Mayo) in American Legion baseball action on Thursday night at Dartts Park.

Playing beneath blue skies and operating with temperatures in the low-70s, Henson started the game and lasted five innings, surrendering just one run and three hits. He struck out four and worked around three walks and one hits-batsman.

Henson began the game peppering the strike zone and keeping the Rochester offense off-balance. He struck out two of the first three batters he faced before surrendering his only run in the bottom of the second when the ‘Hawks scored on a first-and-third situation with two outs. The inning also included two walks and a hit-batsman.

Henson settled in from there and did not allow a hit until the top of the fifth when Rochester loaded the bases with two outs before Isaac Gefre snared a hard-hit line drive to end the threat and preserve a 1-1 tie.

VonRuden threw the final two innings and dazzled the home crowd, most of which hadn’t seen the Medford junior pitch more than a small handful of times. All six outs he recorded in two innings came on strike outs.

After overpowering the Redhawks in the sixth inning in just 13 pitches, VonRuden surrendered one unearned run in the seventh to go with another three strikeouts. For the season, he’s 1-0 with one save and has struck out 23 batters in 11 innings.

Owatonna (3-0 overall) plated the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Williams ripped a grounder to shortstop that was fielded cleanly. but short-hopped across the diamond and skipped to the fence, allowing Carson DeKam to score.

Owatonna got on the board in the third inning when Brayden Truelson smacked Post 77’s first basehit to start the frame. Truelson eventually made it to third and was brought home on an infield single by Isaac Gefre.

In the fifth, Williams started the frame with a walk and came around to score two batters later on a sharp single to left field off the bat of Ethan Walter.

Carter DeBus finished 2-for-2 and reached base three times.

Next week, Owatonna starts a string of three consecutive road games, playing at Austin on Tuesday and at Faribault on Thursday. After traveling to Rochester to take on John Marshall on Tuesday, June 25, Post 77 will take a couple weeks off and return home for a game against Winona at 6 p.m. on July 10.

Note: The teams played nine innings, but the game was official after seven. After the two “exhibition” frames, the score ended at 7-5.

Owatonna 3, Rochester Mayo 2

OWA 001 011 0--3 8 2

MAYO 010 000 1--2 3 2

Owatonna leading hitters: Carter DeBus 2-2, Ethan Walter 1-1 (RBI), Isaac Gefre 1-4 (RBI), Jon Klecker 1-4, Carson DeKam 1-4, Brayden Truelson 1-3

Owatonna pitching: Sam Henson (5IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 4K, 3BB, 1HB), Willie VonRuden (2IP, 0H, 1R, 0ER, 6K, 0BB, 1HB)

Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on Twitter.com @OPPJonW

Award-winning Sports Editor for the Owatonna People's Press, Weisbrod has worked in daily newspapers his entire career. He writes a regular column called Beyond the Box that delves into local, regional and national sports storylines.

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