With Johnny Cash music blaring between innings to fire him up, former Scotia-Glenville High School standout Dakota Aker threw the best game of his life last week.
The senior pitcher for Castleton State tossed his first career no-hitter to lead the Spartans over Maine-Farmington, 4-0. Aker was named the North Eastern Athletic Association’s pitcher of the week for his performance, in which he faced the minimum 21 batters over seven innings.
Only two runners reached base. He walked a batter in the first inning, but that batter was erased on a double play. The other batter reached base on a dropped third strike, but he was thrown out attempting to steal.
Aker struck out eight.
“That’s the only no-hitter I’ve ever thrown,” said Aker, a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder.
“I started thinking about the no-hitter in the fourth inning. It was an awesome feeling. I knew I had my best stuff going. The seventh inning was rough, because the other team was chirping in the dugout that they were going to break up my no-hitter, but I finished it off.”
Aker’s best pitch is his curveball, which he uses as his out pitch.
“I’ve always been a strikeout pitcher, and my curveball has always been my best pitch,” he said. “Our pitching coach calls all the plays, and I just threw what my catcher tells me to. But they know my curve is my best pitch.”
Aker is having a sensational season. He has a 3-1 record and a 2.73 earned run average through 33 innings of work. Opponents have hit just .192 against him. He also has 38 strikeouts.
“I’m leading in most of the league statistics,” Aker said.
“I’m hoping that we get a chance to go to the NCAA tournament, and maybe some scouts will see me there. You never know. I’d love to play somewhere at the next level.”
Aker was 3-3 with a 6.31 ERA a year ago. In 2010, he had a 0-0 record and a 4.50 ERA in just 16 innings of work.
“We had a really good team at Scotia,” he said. “I spent a half-year on the varsity when I was a sophomore, and then I lost only three games in my next two seasons as a junior and a senior. We lost in the sectional semifinals one year.”
Always a strikeout threat, Aker once fanned 16 hitters in a game against Queensbury.
Aker’s teammate, Schenectady’s Ryan Zielinski, was named the NEAA player of the week after hitting .500 (12-for-24) in seven games with a .792 slugging percentage and a .571 on-base percentage. The junior infielder also drove in 10 runs, scored nine times and stole five bases as the Spartans went 7-0 during the week.
u Sage’s softball team continues to feature several players among the national statistical leaders. Senior outfielder Tiffany Bezio (Whitehall) is 10th in the nation with five triples, while rookie infielder Kristen Beikirch is 43rd in hitting with a .468 batting average. Senior third baseman Megan Welcome (Cohoes) is 35th in doubles with 11. Junior pitcher Kelsey Newberg is 37th in strikeouts per seven innings (7.0), and junior pitcher Rachel Smith (Ichabod Crane) is 63rd in runs per game (1.04).
u Participating in her eighth international Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship, Union’s Julie Chu has been named the captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team. She was an assistant captain during the 2010 Olympics and the 2011 Four Nations Cup. A three-time Olympian, Chu helped lead the U.S. to the silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Harvard graduate recently completed her second season as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s hockey team.
u University at Albany’s Logan Aronhalt and Binghamton’s Adam Quinn (Shenendehowa) were named America East Conference winter scholar-athletes recently. Each scholar-athlete was a starter or prominent reserve who carried a minimum grade-point average of 3.30. Aronhalt, a junior, was co-captain of the Great Danes’ men’s basketball team and averaged 14 points per game. He surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career and had a 3.78 GPA. Quinn, a senior, specialized in distance events on the Binghamton track team. He was second in the 5,000 meters and eighth in the 3,000 at the America East indoor track and field championship. The biology major has a 3.78 GPA.
u The Union College men’s lacrosse team was ranked fifth in the latest USILA Coaches Poll.
Junior Peter Dumas (Colonie) was named the Empire 8 men’s tennis player of the week after winning all five matches against St. John Fisher and Nazareth.
ST. JOHN FISHER
Junior Leanne Merchant (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) was named the Cardinals’ female athlete of the week and the Empire 8 Conference player of the week after hitting .555 with 14 RBI as the Cardinals’ softball team went 5-1.