When a car runs out of gasoline, it's generally the biggest — and worst — event of the day.
However, that wasn't the case for North Forsyth pitcher Jess Ackerman on Feb. 26. When Ackerman noticed his car was out of gasoline at the end of the school day, he made a mad rush to the gas station to make sure he did not stall out.
On top of that, Ackerman was the starting pitcher that night for the Raiders’ game against LaGrange.
“Actually, in the bullpen I felt like it was going to be a rough game,” Ackerman said. “I was all over the place. Probably after the first inning, though, I knew I was going to have my good stuff.”
Ackerman did not have just his good stuff, but perhaps the best stuff of his career. He threw 12 strikeouts over five innings.
And he also threw the first no-hitter of his life.
“I didn’t know I threw it until after the end of the game, because I thought we were going out to play another inning,” Ackerman said.
After the game was called after the fifth inning due to a 11-0 mercy, the entire Raiders bench jumped on top of Ackerman in a dogpile.
Since the game ended late, Ackerman said he drove through Chick-fil-A for dinner and his parents congratulated him, but that was all the celebration he could bear before going to bed.
“One of the best to ever come through North,” Raiders head coach Jim Cahill said. “I could tell by the swings and the misses he was getting that it was going to be a great night.”
Dominating on the pitcher’s mound is no fluke for Ackerman. He has already committed to play college baseball at Mercer University.
In his first start of the season, Ackerman threw four innings and allowed just one hit, striking out seven betters. His latest start was nearly as impressive as his no-hitter, as the North lefty fanned 14 batters across 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
Ackerman now owns 31 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings pitched.
“I like working hard,” Ackerman said. “I want to do everything one hundred percent.”
Ackerman credits his success as of late to learning how to better use his legs while pitching. He looks up to and models his game after one of Major League Baseball’s best, Jacob DeGrom.
As the season continues, Ackerman said he hopes that this is not the best game of the season for him, but that he only continues to get better because he wants to keep winning.
“Definitely a leader,” Cahill said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”