By now, the cluster of big league scouts that follow Bryan Hudson from game to game have become part of the landscape for the Alton senior pitcher.
They've been following him since he pitched at a regional tournament when he was still just a sophomore. And they were there again Thursday, clustered in the metal bleachers behind home plate at Belleville West to see how the 6-foot-8 left hander's 93 mph fastball and sharp curve matched up against the Maroons' hitters.
Hudson showed them what they came to see, zoning out the battery of radar guns aimed at his delivery, and striking out 13 West batters in a 3-0 Southwestern Conference victory.
The Maroons got just three hits off Hudson, one of which made it past the pitcher's mound.
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"Obviously he's a stud. He's the most elite pitcher I've ever seen and pretty much everybody around here has seen," said West senior catcher Jacob Wilson. "He throws hard and that curve ball is just freaking nasty. Sometimes he throws it harder and gets a little more movement on it, but it's always sharp."
There was plenty to distract Hudson, including a persistent 15 mph wind out of the south. And then there all those radar guns.
"(The attention) was new to me, for sure, but once I got used to it I was able to dial it in and focus on doing my thing," he said.
West didn't get its first hit until the fifth inning when Luke Glaeser bounced a chopper to Hudson high enough to beat out the throw. Sophomore Logan Betz also reached on a slow roller to no-man's land between third base and the pitcher's mound.
Cal Kossina got the Maroon's third hit in the sixth, a solid line drive into center field.
Hudson faced just four more batters than the maximum 21.
"We thought he was sharp, even in these elements with the wind and the dust that can sometimes blow in your eyes," said Alton coach Todd Haug. "What people don't know is that he was battling a pretty serious injury. He rolled an ankle a couple of days ago and has it taped up."
West senior pitcher Matt Klosterman lost a 1-0 decision to Hudson in the second week of April. He got the tough assignment again Thursday and was up to the challenge before leaving the game in the fourth with some tightness in his throwing arm.
He surrendered a run in the third when he hit Alton lead-off hitter Matt Hopkins who scored on an RBI single by — who else — Hudson. It was the only run he surrendered, while allowing three hits and giving up two walks. He struck out six.
"It's a hard assignment to go up against a lot of the pitchers in our conference and he could say 'coach, I don't want to,' but he never does," said West coach Todd Baltz. "Matt is a competitor and he's the kind of kid who wants the hard assignments."
Kossina and Luke Valladingham also pitched for the Maroons who, in total, struck out 10 Alton batters in the game.
Alton added a pair of runs in the sixth. Aaron Bonnell led off with a double and scored on an RBI single by Jacob Skrabacz. Steven Pattan later scored from third on a throwing error.
West falls to 11-17 with six games left ahead of the Class 4A Belleville East Regional. Alton is 26-5 with four games left to play.
Hudson is now 9-1. He entered the game at West with a .43 earned run average. He'll almost certainly hear his name called when Major League Baseball begins its draft on June 8, but he's not counting gis chickens.
"I'm not really sure what's going to happen, but as of right now I'm going to Missouri," he said.