Chu, Willingham, Strom combine for no-hitter in FredNats DH split

Fredericksburg NationalsThe Fredericksburg Nationals combined for the first no-hitter in team history in a long night of doubleheader baseball against the Salem Red Sox on Saturday.

In game one, Gilberto Chu, Amos Willingham and Leif Strom combined to no-hit the Red Sox in a 12-0, seven-inning victory. Game two of the twin bill saw Salem salvage a split with a 5-3 win over the FredNats.

Chu received plenty of early run support in the first game, as the FredNats batted around and scored five runs in each of the first two innings. RBI singles from José Sánchez, Braian Fernández and Jake Boone against Salem starter Shane Drohan (L, 4-3) highlighted the first inning, and doubles from Sánchez, Zach Cornell and Fernández put the FredNats up 10-0 in the second.

Chu’s three frames gave the FredNats 22.1 consecutive scoreless innings from their starting pitchers dating back a full week. His dominance was only halted by an hour-long rain delay at the end of the third that forced both teams to switch pitchers.

Willingham (W, 3-0) was just as good, walking the first batter he faced but contributing 2.0 hitless innings of his own. Strom came on for the sixth, walking a man but coaxing an inning-ending double play. Back out for the seventh, the big righty worked around a leadoff error from shortstop Jordy Barley to strike out the final two batters and secure the no-hitter.

The historic performance was the fifth for the FredNats franchise dating to its Alexandria origins in 1978, and first since Matthew Crownover completed a nine-inning no-hitter against the Lynchburg Hillcats on August 25, 2018 as a member of the Potomac Nationals. The last combined no-hitter for the franchise also came against Salem, when Brian Woods and Archie Woods threw nine no-hit innings for the Prince William Cannons against the Salem Avalanche on April 8, 1995. The last seven-inning no-hitter happened later in the 1995 season as Prince William’s Rich Pratt no-hit the Frederick Keys on May 19.

In game two, the Red Sox wasted no time getting their first hit and run out of the way as they used a Matthew Lugo RBI single to take a 1-0 lead against Rodney Theophile (L, 2-9). The FredNats took a brief 2-1 lead in the second with RBI singles from Boone and Sánchez, but an unearned run in the third helped Salem tie the game 2-2.

In the fourth, the Red Sox took the lead for good with an RBI single from Darel Belen and a two-run homer from Jecorrah Arnold. After a lightning delay, the FredNats got a run back in the fifth on an RBI single from Leandro Emiliani but couldn’t solve Salem reliever Devon Roedahl (W, 4-2). The righty retired all six men he faced in the final two innings to help the Red Sox escape the day with a split.

The FredNats wrap up their series against the Salem Red Sox on Sunday. First pitch from FredNats Ballpark is scheduled for 6:05, with FredNats On Deck beginning at 5:50 on the FredNats Baseball Network.

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