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Trio of hurlers twirl first no-no in FredNats history

Chu, Willingham and Strom combine to complete seven-inning feat
Gilberto Chu, Amos Willingham and Leif Strom delivered the first no-hitter in Fredericksburg history. (Fredericksburg Nationals)
August 15, 2021

It was history with a dash of dominance.

It was history with a dash of dominance.

Gilberto Chu, Amos Willingham and Leif Strom combined to toss the first no-hitter in Low-A Fredericksburg team history as the Nationals blanked the Salem Red Sox, 12-0, in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader at FredNats Ballpark.

The FredNats pushed their first run across with two outs in the opening frame on a wild pitch, and that wound up being all the club needed because of the performance of its trio of hurlers. Salem only put two runners into scoring position the entire game, and neither of them reached third base.

Chu took the hill for his second straight start, his 16th game of the year, and retired the first eight batters he faced. Darel Belen broke up the perfecto with a five-pitch walk and Nick Yorke followed that up with a six-pitch walk. That represented the biggest threat Salem created all game. Chu whiffed Gilberto Jimenez to escape the jam, and his dominance was only halted by an hour-long rain delay to begin the forth. He finished with five punchouts and lowered his ERA to 2.34 on the year. His performance extended the FredNats' consecutive scoreless-inning streak by a starter to 22 1/3 consecutive frames dating back to last week.

Willingham took the ball when play resumed and worked around a leadoff walk by Matthew Lugo to set down the next six batters he faced. The 22-year-old finished his outing with back-to-back strikeouts of Antoni Flores and Belen. He exited the game after throwing 24 of his 39 pitches for strikes.

In the sixth, Strom needed just 11 pitches to navigate through the frame, which was capped off by an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. In the seventh, the 24-year-old righty worked around a fielding error by shortstop Jorday Barley and a passed ball by catcher Onix Vega to complete the milestone. Strom ended the game by coaxing Alex Erro to swing through a 2-2 fastball before freezing Angel Maita on an 0-2 off-speed pitch that broke low in the zone.

Combined, the trio tossed 121 pitches -- 74 for strikes -- and recorded nine strikeouts. Willingham earned his third victory of the season in his 22nd appearance.

The historic performance was the fifth for the franchise dating back to its Alexandria origins in 1978, and the first since Matthew Crownover completed a nine-inning no-hitter against the Lynchburg Hillcats on Aug. 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 hitless innings for the Prince William Cannons against the Salem Avalanche on April 8, 1995. The last seven-inning no-no occurred later in the 1995 season as Prince William's Rich Pratt no-hit the Frederick Keys on May 19.

Every player in the FredNats lineup recorded at least one hit -- with five players notching multihit efforts -- and every starter but one contributed at least an RBI or a run scored.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.