Buk Bounces Back

Brett Bukvich had a positive attitude going into the baseball season. This is his fifth year at Ole Miss, he's been here starting with the 2005 Super Regional team, and he wants this year to be his best.

He had taken to heart the words of sports psychologist/peak performance coach Brian Cain. He'd listened to his older brother, Ryan, who had been where Brett would like to be – in the major leagues.

He had obviously continued to take the advice and instruction of his Ole Miss coaches. So many people had an influence on his mental and physical approach to the 2009 season.

Then came Mobile. His first appearance, in relief of Rebel starter Chris Corrigan against Mercer, was a struggle. The stat line said it. Bukvich's demeanor showed. And the Rebels eventually lost 13-11.

Three runs, but just one earned, on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Not all that bad, but his inconsistency was apparent.

Against Central Arkansas in an 11-3 Reb win, things were different. Make that better.

His pitching stats read five innings with one earned run on five hits and four strikeouts.

"Felt real good," said Bukvich after getting his first win of the young season. "Good to get ahead of hitters. I struggled the first outing. Good thing was I had no walks. The whole staff had no walks. It's big when you don't give them any free bases."

Bukvich said most everything was working for him.

"I was able to get ahead with my curve ball or my changeup whenever needed," the Brandon native said. "My slider was kinda struggling a little bit. But I was able to locate my fast ball real well."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Bukvich was definitely effective against the UCA Bears.

"Brett had a good curve ball working today, and he had a good changeup as he always does, and a good, live fast ball," the ninth-year UM head coach said. "The difference today was that he was able to drop some curve balls in there. That's a new thing for him that he's worked on. He's always had the fast ball, slider, changeup. Now he's got another pitch in his repertoire, and it was big for him today."

Bukvich has now entered a game in relief and also started one in the Rebels' first five contests. He said he's willing to pitch wherever, but he really doesn't expect to be a fulltime starter.

"Probably long relief," he said of his own projection for his season. "But just whenever they call my name, I'm here to get outs. I just want to give my team a chance to win."

On Wednesday, he more than did that.

Ole Miss hosts Texas Christian Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Starting pitchers for the Rebels are junior RHP Aaron Barrett, sophomore LHP Drew Pomeranz, and junior RHP Phillip Irwin.

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