In order to pitch a no-hitter in baseball, it helps to pitch to contact.
That sounds like a contradiction, but Aidan Crowley believes it’s true, and he should know. Crowley tossed no-hitters in consecutive starts — his first two of the season — this month for Shoreham-Wading River High School.
“It’s pretty special,” said coach Kevin Willi.
Crowley’s first career no-no came in a 10-0 non-league win at home against Eastport/South Manor on April 2. The junior had eight strikeouts and two walks.
That game ended with a Crowley strikeout and he reacted.
“I knew that it was a no-hitter,” he said. “A lot of the guys didn’t realize. I think only like three or four guys knew, so I was pretty excited.”
What did Crowley attribute that no-hitter to?
“The defense was insane,” he said. “That was the biggest thing that helped me. There were some really nice plays that they would have been hits but Mason [Kelly] saved me in centerfield, Jared [Sciarrino] made a nice play and then in the seventh, [Nick] Bettenhauser doubled a guy off on a line drive at second base.”
No-hitters can sneak up on people, but Crowley’s second one seven days later didn’t. He fired 14 strikeouts and walked four in a 3-0 Suffolk County League VII victory at Elwood/John Glenn.
“That one, everyone realized” what was happening, Crowley said. “That one was a much closer game. We didn’t score until the seventh, so everyone was really into the game and everyone ran out. Everyone knew what happened.”
Another Aidan, Aidan Hutchins, caught both no-hitters.
The second game showed the value of pitching to contact in order to avoid the pitch count from getting out of hand. Crowley threw 107 pitches and said he would have been pulled out of the game had he walked the last batter he faced.
The 6-foot-3 righthander was SWR’s No. 3 pitcher last year. He has worked on his control since then and is now the team’s No. 1 starter, a power pitcher with a curveball, changeup and slider to augment his mid-80s fastball.
“He goes right at guys, gets ahead of batters,” Willi said. “He’s got a good, sharp breaking ball.”
As Crowley sees it, a no-hitter is the goal every time he takes the mound.
“I mean, a perfect game is a little unrealistic just because I know I’m going to walk some guys once in a while,” he said. “I’m upset every time I give up a hit. It kind of bothers me.”
Crowley said he hasn’t received celebrity treatment because of his no-hitters, but he has heard a lot of jokes from teammates.
“Everyone’s messing around with me,” he said. “After the game we all went out to eat and they’re all like, ‘Who’s paying for his food?’ ”
What Crowley did is reminiscent of Brian Morrell hurling no-hitters in his first two career pitching starts as an SWR freshman in 2014. Morrell finished with five no-hitters for his high school career. In 2013, Riverhead left-hander Matt Crohan also started his senior season with a pair of no-hitters. Both Morrell and Crohan would win the Carl Yastrzemski Award as the top player in Suffolk County during their high school careers. (Morrell won twice).
The question begged to be asked: Can Crowley make it three no-hitters in a row?
“I don’t want to say yes because I feel like I’d jinx it,” he said with a smile. “That’s the goal.”
Photo caption: Aidan Crowley has pitched no-hitters in his first two starts this season for Shoreham-Wading River High School. (Credit: Bob Liepa)