Big 12 Conference play is still a week away for Missouri's baseball team. But sophomore pitcher Max Scherzer is ready for it now.
"I'm ready to face good hitters who are able to hit your fastball no matter where you put it, and you're going to have to pitch," Scherzer said. "I can't wait for that. It's a great chance to go out and compete."
There weren't too many hitters on North Dakota State's team that could hit Scherzer. He completed his 90-mph fastball with a hard-breaking slider, struck out 11 batters and allowed two hits and a walk in seven innings of work as the Tigers won 10-0 on Friday at Taylor Stadium.
"His stuff was just as good in the seventh inning as it was in the first inning," coach Tim Jamieson said. "It's almost scary how good he has a chance to be."
North Dakota State fell to 0-13-1 in its first season as a Division I team, but Scherzer's next start will provide a stiffer test. It comes in the Tigers' Big 12 opener next Friday at Kansas State.
"I think he's ready," Jamieson said. "I think he's as ready as he can be without having a start in conference. You couldn't ask for a whole lot more from him."
The Tigers (14-4) provided Scherzer with enough offense early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning on run-scoring singles by junior Derek Chambers and freshman Jacob Priday.
MU added three more in the fourth, and by the time the night was over, had scored 10 or more runs for the sixth consecutive game. Friday's 13-hit performance was aided by several fly balls and pop-ups that North Dakota State allowed to fall.
"This game's hard enough when they don't give you extra outs," junior Bryson LeBlanc said. "So when you get them, you have to capitalize."
LeBlanc got on in the first inning with a chance double when a pop-up to right field fell in. He later scored on Chambers' single. LeBlanc hit a triple to the wall as part of the Tigers' rally in the fourth and finished the game with three runs, but the first one was all that Scherzer needed.
North Dakota State has played both Kansas State and Kansas in the past week, so LeBlanc set out to find out just how good the Bison thought Scherzer was. While he was on first base, LeBlanc had a conversation with Bison first baseman Reid Arnold during a mound conference.
"They've played K-State and KU and I was kind of asking him about them, and he said, 'Oh, they're pretty good, but we haven't seen a guy like (Scherzer),'" LeBlanc said.