Bukvich pitches well as Rebs beat Tigers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Brett Bukvich needed an outing like the one he had Wednesday night. The Rebel sophomore lefty handled the Memphis Tigers for the better part of his five innings on the mound as Ole Miss won going away 10-2.

Bukvich left this one feeling good about things after a crowd of 3,175, a majority of them Ole Miss fans, watched at beautiful AutoZone Park downtown.

"It was a big night for me," said Bukvich, who had admittedly struggled some this season but still came into the game with a 3.27 ERA. "My fast ball wasn't really that effective tonight, but I just got ahead of hitters and showed I could get my offspeed stuff in there for strikes. That's the thing I've struggled with, getting my offspeed over for strikes. Just getting ahead tonight was big for me."

It was evident Bukvich, who went five innings with only one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks, needed a performance like this.

"When I was struggling, I'd get frustrated with myself and give in too easily," said Bukvich, now 6-2 on the season. "I just have to compete a little harder, and that's what my (older) brother (Ryan, who pitches in major league baseball and formerly pitched at Ole Miss) talked to me about. If I just go out there and compete and give it all I've got, I believe I can hang with anybody anyday."

It's the type confidence Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco was pleased to see from Bukvich.

"Brett pitched really well, as well as I've seen him pitch in a long time," Bianco said. "He needed that and we needed that, not just for tonight's game but for the rest of the season."

The Tigers didn't scratch until the bottom of the fifth inning when they got their lone run off Bukvich. By that time the Rebels led 7-0 and were in total control.

"It was a really well-played game all the way around for us," said Bianco, his team now 31-16 on the season heading to Knoxville for three games against Tennessee this weekend. "We talked about playing clean and playing well in all three phases, and we did that tonight."

Ole Miss broke open a scoreless game with three runs in the top of the third. The Rebels did it with power, too. After there were two outs, Justin Henry singled and advanced to second on an error on the Tigers' center fielder as K.K. Chalmers couldn't get a handle on the baseball. Then came two blasts to the grassy knoll in left.

First, Zack Cozart sent one into the left field hillside seating area, a two-run shot that obviously also got Justin home. Cody Overbeck followed that up with a northbound rocket of 400 feet as if he was swinging for his hometown of Munford, Tenn., not too far upriver from the Bluff City.

At 3-0 the tone was set for this one. With Bukvich pitching effectively, the Rebels went back to work offensively, adding a run in the bottom of the fourth on a Brett Basham RBI single to left center which scored Zach Miller who had reached on a single and moved to third on a C. J. Ketchum base hit.

A three-run top of the fifth for the Rebs made it 7-0. Logan Power doubled and Cody Overbeck, who had walked, scored on another Chalmers error. Power moved to third on a balk.

After Miller doubled past third base to score Power, Ketchum flew out and Kyle Mills struck out before Jordan Henry singled past third base to score Miller for the 7-0 Reb advantage.

The Rebels put up two runs in the top of the sixth. Cozart walked, Overbeck walked, and the Tigers made a pitching change. With Power at bat, Cozart and Overbeck stole second and third respectively. Power flew out to left to score Cozart. A Miller single drove in Overbeck to make it 9-1.

In the top of the seventh, the Rebels added their final run of the contest when a Cozart fly ball to left got Jordan home after he had singled and moved to third on a Justin base hit.

The Tigers added a run in the ninth for the final tally.

Ole Miss, which outhit Memphis 14-7, used five pitchers as Jesse Simpson, Scott Bittle, Craig Rodriguez, and Justin Cryer all got innings after Bukvich.

Memphis fell to 27-17. The losing pitcher was starter Brennon Martin, the first of five pitchers used by the Tigers.

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