The Oakland A’s are no strangers to no-hitters these days. They’ve thrown one in each of the last two seasons, plus five more in the minors since 2017, including two in one day. One of the members of their new 2020 MLB draft class will fit right in.
The A’s 4th-round pick was right-handed pitcher Dane Acker out of University of Oklahoma. Acker’s scouting reports praise his command and durability, helping him outperform his solid but not overpowering stuff — he doesn’t just have good pitches, but truly knows how to pitch well. He showed that ability in his sophomore year at San Jacinto JC, posting a low ERA and monster strikeout rate.
Acker transferred to power-conference Oklahoma as a junior but only got to make four starts there, before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. That was still enough time for him to make another good impression and uphold his reputation as a quality performer. In one of those four starts, on March 1 against LSU, he threw a no-hitter.
Oklahoma’s website refers to Acker’s no-hitter as “one of the greatest performances in program history,” and for good reason. It was the Sooners’ first no-no since 1989, and the first time Louisiana State has ever been no-hit in a nine-inning game.
Of course, the only thing better than reading about a no-hitter is seeing one for yourself. The game was televised, and the broadcast is available in its entirety on YouTube. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to watch live baseball, so here’s a chance to enjoy a game and witness a historic outing by a new A’s prospect.
You can watch on the player below, or click here to watch directly on YouTube.
Acker issued a 1st-inning walk, and later hit two batters, but otherwise the Tigers couldn’t muster anything against him. There were three loud outs to the warning track, including one that required a nice running catch in the gap by the center fielder, and another couple pieces of sharp contact on the infield, but nothing fell for a hit. The Sooners even chipped in a couple errors, including an E-6 on a routine groundout and a missed catch on a foul popup (which didn’t add a runner but did require Acker retire that batter a second time).
The final tally was 117 pitches, with 11 strikeouts. Click here to see the full box score.
Acker’s pitchability was on full display. The broadcasters talked about how he’s good at mixing speeds and locations, and commented on his sound mechanics. Throughout the game he threw strikes and used the whole zone, working both corners as well as up and down to change hitters’ eye levels. And although he showed signs of fatigue in the final two innings, he was able to stay strong enough to keep recording outs.
Ironically, Acker almost wasn’t the best pitcher in this game. His opponent, A.J. Labas of LSU, also had a no-hitter going through seven innings, but he finally blinked in the 8th and served up a solo homer. Still, it was the only hit Labas allowed in the game, and along with a HBP he only let two runners reach base, half of Acker’s total. It also took Labas only 90 pitches to complete eight innings, though the Tigers went to the bullpen for the 9th. But despite Labas’ efforts, it was Acker who held on to win this duel.
If you don’t have time to watch a full game but still want a glimpse of Acker, here’s a highlight video featuring all 27 outs.
Can’t wait to see Acker competing in the pros, in the A’s farm system!