by Jonathan Vander Lugt
By now, the Springside Chestnut Hill Blue Devils have little left to play for but pride. They’re 4-4 in the Inter-Ac, with any hopes at a conference championship dashed by a loss Friday to the Haverford School. Penn Charter, with its 8-1 record, will reign as conference champs.
Last Tuesday, SCH still had a sliver of hope going into its game against the Episcopal Academy. Needing a win to keep the team’s conference hopes alive, junior Aidan Frye delivered in a big way.
He no-hit the Churchmen in the Blue Devils’ 6-0 victory.
“Early on, I was just trying to dominate with my fastball,” Frye said.
He did a good enough job, pumping mid-80s heat past Churchman bats for the first few innings. Eventually, EA caught up and stung a couple balls before Frye had to adjust.
“That’s when I started to use my off-speed effectively,” he said.
The first inning passed scoreless for SCH, but from that point forward, the Blue Devils gave Frye at least one run of support in each inning thereafter.
In the second, Andrew Singer tagged a double that drove Jack Elliot home. In the third, Ian Diaz’s sac fly brought Chris Alleyne to the plate. Brian Fischer scored on a double that Sam Aslansan roped to deep left-center in the fourth inning.
Like clockwork, the SCH bats kept delivering.
“Sitting in the dugout and watching them provide for me, it’s the best feeling,” Frye said, “to know that they have your back.”
In the fifth, SCH brought two runs home on a seeing-eye RBI single by Fischer and on an Aslansan infield hit. Alleyne came around on a Diaz single in the next frame.
Meanwhile, Frye—“Curly” as his team often called him—was living dangerously. He struck out five in seven frames, but of the batted ball outs he allowed, 10 of 16 were in the air.
A couple were lazy fly balls to the infield, but allowing teams to hit the ball in the air isn’t usually a recipe for success. Nonetheless, Frye made it work.
“For me, it’s all about pitch selection,” Frye said. “Most of the balls they hit in the air were off change-ups, so their contact wasn’t as good as it could have been.”
By the seventh inning, Frye, understandably, was gassed. He went to two-ball counts to open each at-bat before bearing down and retiring each to seal his no-no.
“It started to hit me a little bit,” Frye said. “As a pitcher, when you go behind 2-0 in the last inning of a no-hitter, it’s pretty frightening. When you get behind in the count, you’ve got to work all the way back up.
He did, and when Episcopal’s Cam Van Hoorebeke grounded out to short to end the game, Frye had a no-hit feather in his cap.
Despite the accomplishment, there wasn’t an emotional finish, outburst, or showing of any kind from Frye. Maybe—just maybe—he snuck a wry grin, but that was gone by the time team handshakes were done.
“Honestly,” Frye said, “it was in the back of my mind a little bit, but I was just trying to get a win.”
“That’s typical Frye,” said SCH head coach Joe Ishikawa. “That’s what you get from him. He doesn’t get rattled and nothing shakes him. He just stays focused in the moment. He’s an incredible leader for us.”
The final line: seven innings, two walks, five strikeouts, and no hits.
“He only has two losses in the Inter-Ac since he came here,” Ishikawa said. “He’s got more than ten wins. That’s tough to do, especially as a junior.”
The positive energy from the win, unfortunately, was short-lived. SCH needed to win out and get a lot of help to contend for a conference title (which was not out of the picture—it’s what they did in their league-winning run in 2016), but it wasn’t meant to be.
Penn Charter has clinched the league with an 8-1 record as of press time, and each other Inter-Ac squad has at least three losses. SCH, now 4-4 in the league after a tight 4-3 loss to the Haverford School last Friday, closes its season out with a pair of home tilts against Germantown Academy Tuesday and Malvern Prep on Friday.
“We can’t worry about those guys are doing,” Ishikawa said. “We’ve got to win the ones in front of us.”