LINCOLN, Neb. -- Missouri coach Tim Jamieson didn't plan on having sophomore Max Scherzer pitch a complete game. It's just that Scherzer was too good to take out.
Scherzer led the No. 17 Tigers to a 2-1 victory against No. 7 Nebraska on Friday night at Hawks Field. He struck out nine and gave up a lone run on four hits in the first complete game of his career.
"From the fifth inning on, it was just a battle...," Scherzer said. "As a competitor, it's just so much fun to win it yourself and go out there and shake the catcher's hand."
After the Huskers (37-10 overall, 12-7 Big 12) staged a two-out rally to score a run in the fifth inning, they mounted another threat in the sixth. With men on second and third and two outs, Scherzer walked Brandon Buckman to load the bases. The Missouri bullpen was busy, but Scherzer got out of the inning when Trey Adams flied out to left.
At the time, Jamieson said, the Tigers (34-12, 12-7) were prepared to take Scherzer out at any point.
"From the sixth inning on, it was just a matter of situations," Jamieson said. "As soon as they got somebody on base, as soon as it looked like the swings had gotten good against him, he was gone. It was pitch by pitch."
But the sophomore raised his level of play. He allowed only one baserunner in the next two innings, and then struck out the side in the ninth to end the game. He threw 133 pitches.
"That's just Max," Jamieson said. "There's no way he going to want to come out, and he was better in the seventh, eighth and ninth than he was in the first six innings."
The Tigers scored all the runs they would need in the top of the first when junior first baseman Derek Chambers hit a bases-loaded single to drive in two runs. Outfielder Tyler Williams, starting in place of the injured James Boone, struck out with a chance to score more, but two runs were enough.
Scherzer said the early lead was nice, but that he wasn't going to get overconfident.
"It's just pitching with the lead," he said. "It really didn't change my approach at all. I was just trying to pump strikes and get people out."
Such is the power of Scherzer, who won despite Missouri's continued hitting struggles. Thanks to an error, catcher J.C. Field came around to third with one out in the second, but two strikeouts ended the inning. Williams reached third in the fourth but didn't score, and Chambers grounded out with the bases loaded in the fifth.
In all, MU left nine runners on base.
"That's the same thing that's been going on," Chambers said. "We're trying to go up there not worrying about, 'I gotta do this.' I think we did it a little bit tonight. We're getting better."
With the win, the Tigers are in position to take an enormous series win. The Tigers and Huskers are now tied for second place in the Big 12 at 12-7. Kansas upset No. 3 Texas to drop the Longhorns to fourth.
"It was a great game to remember," Scherzer said. "Those guys are good, so it's a good win."
The importance of the game was obvious, from the nearly 6,000 boisterous fans to the fist pump given by Field after Scherzer struck out the last batter of the game. Both teams even had an assistant coach ejected, Tony Vitello for Missouri and Andy Sawyers for Nebraska.
Vitello was kicked out for arguing after Daniel Bruce led off the sixth with a bunt single. Scherzer didn't allow another hit.