Ole Miss, 6-1 on the season and ranked 18th nationally (Collegiate Baseball), will send Brett Bukvich to the mound today at 3 p.m. in Oxford against Arkansas State, 6-2 on the year.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound left-hander from Northwest Rankin High School got the Rebels' lone loss this season, a 3-2 setback to Samford. But that was more the result of a lack of Rebel offense than anything Bukvich did in that game in Oxford last Wednesday.
The younger brother of former Rebel pitcher Ryan Bukvich, now playing in professional baseball, went five and a third innings allowing no earned runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
But in the game Ole Miss got just four hits and lost for the only time this season.
The Indians (6-2) are coming off of a 2-1 weekend at the Lamar Cardinal Classic as the Tribe picked up wins over SEC member Kentucky and Big Ten member Michigan State.
The Indians will send junior right hander T. J. Brewer to the mound to face the Rebels. Brewer, a 6-2 native of Bloomington, IN, will be making his third appearance and second start of the season for the Tribe. He boasts a 1-0 record on the year with a 3.18 ERA. He picked up the win as he combined with two other pitchers to toss a shutout of Murray State last week. He worked five strong innings and allowed just one hit as he struck out seven batters.
Ole Miss and Arkansas State are scheduled to meet twice this season. The other contest is in Jonesboro, Ark., on Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. That game is also the first Rebel contest to be picked up on the entire Ole Miss radio network. From that game on, every contest of the season is supposed to be broadcast on the full network.
The Rebels and the Indians met just one time last season with Ole Miss winning its season opener 10-0 in Oxford.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco says the 2006 version of Rebel baseball continues to find its own identity and personality as the season progresses with game eight today.
"We've known that this team, like all teams, would continue to become its own unique group and develop that identity," he said. "That's been the case through the early games. We're playing different people in different situations and trying to figure it all out. The nice thing is that after seven games we've pitched pretty well, and that's good to see.
"Maybe the most disappointing thing so far that we're not really worried about yet is that we haven't played as well on defense as we thought we would. Going into this season, the one thing you would say about this team is that they're going to catch and throw. They return a lot of infielders. So I think we'll play better defensively, like we did (Sunday), which was our cleanest game so far."
Newcomer Evan Button, a freshman from St. Louis, continues to lead the Rebels at the plate, batting a blazing .778 in six appearances and three starts with seven hits in nine at-bats including a double and four RBI.
Among everyday starters, junior center fielder Alex Presley has continued his hot preseason into the regular season with a .483 average on 14 hits in 29 at-bats including a double, two triples, a home run, and 12 RBI.
Diamond Rebels host ASU today at 3 p.m.
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