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Baseball: Friend’s death precedes Phelps’ no-hitter

Sunday was a memorable day in more ways than one for Chase Phelps. It was a dramatic mix of bad and good.

First, the bad. The North Fork Ospreys pitcher awoke Sunday morning to a couple of disturbing text messages, informing him of the death of a friend the night before.

So, it was with a heavy heart later that day when Phelps took the mound for a start against the Southampton Breakers.

“It was a little emotional,” he said.

Emotions of a different sort took over in the game when Phelps became the first Ospreys pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter and the sixth in Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League history. He fanned Joey Porricelli for his eighth strikeout of the game, wrapping up a 3-0 shutout in the opener of a doubleheader in Southampton.

“It was kind of a surreal moment,” said Phelps.

Phelps did not issue a walk, throwing 60 of his 78 pitches for strikes in the seven-inning game. Because of a couple of errors, he faced two batters over the minimum.

“It was exciting,” Ospreys coach Bill Ianniciello said. “He was painting [the corners] all day. He was very sharp. He had good command of his fastball. We said in the first inning, ‘His stuff looks sharp.’ That is a special thing, for sure.”

Phelps said: “I felt good. The fastball felt alive. The breaking ball was sharp.”

Phelps, a 6-foot-1 righthander from Fort Wayne, Indiana, will enter his sophomore year at Indiana University-Purdue University. This season he is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA.

Phelps was presented with two balls from the game as mementos. Asked if he had ever thrown a no-hitter before, Phelps said: “I think I threw one when I was younger, but this one was a lot more special to me, especially with the circumstances. … Initially, I just wanted to get the win for [my friend] and kind of dedicate it. I had no idea it would turn into a no-hitter. It just made it that much more special to me.”

*  No, he’s not that Tom Brady

The Ospreys are clearly Tom Brady fans.

No, not that Tom Brady, but the one who plays first base and sometimes designated hitter for them.

Brady, who will be a junior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has given them reason to be. He went 3-for-3, homering and then singling in the game-winning hit in the Ospreys’ playoff-clinching 3-2 victory over the Sag Harbor Whalers in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

“The last few games I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate,” Brady said. “I just tried to continue that.”

Now, what about the jokes and cracks he continually hears about the New England Patriots quarterback with the same name? Does he ever tire of it?

“It’s all fun,” he said. “Some of the jokes get old.”

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Photo caption: Chase Phelps with one of the baseballs he used Sunday when he pitched the first no-hitter in the North Fork Ospreys’ history. (Credit: Bob Liepa)