Better Bukvich

Brett Bukvich was the story of Ole Miss' 3-0 win against Austin Peay Wednesday night. The senior left-hander was the best he's been this season.

"I felt good, and all my pitches were working," said Bukvich, who went six innings, allowing just two hits with six strikeouts and a walk. "I just went back to controlling what I can control and that's executing pitches. So I just focused mainly on executing my pitches and hitting my spots."

And he did that as well as he's done it in a while. Certainly it wasn't the most comfortable night for baseball, with the wind gusting and the temperatures down into the 40s.

"Buk was really sharp with a mix of four pitches," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, his team now 9-3 heading to Vanderbilt for the start of Southeastern Conference play. "It was mostly changeup and fast ball. But he threw some curves and sliders and just really seemed to handcuff them and keep them off balance all night."

Bianco said the conditions were indeed difficult for baseball.

"Tough night for offense," he said. "With the wind gushing from centerfield, just a tough night to put big innings together. But I'm proud of our guys. We did put one inning together off their ace. That's their Friday night guy."

Ryne Harper (2-1) started for the Governors and went six innings, allowing just the three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and a walk. Two other APSU pitchers, Ryne Mantooth and Daniel Tenholder, allowed a hit and two hits respectively but no damage.

Those three runs all came in the bottom of the third for the Rebels. Otherwise there were zeros throughout the scoreboard.

Kevin Mort, continuing his team-leading hitting with a 2-for-3 night, led off the third with a single. Taylor Hightower followed with a single. Jordan Henry singled to get Mort home, and a throwing error on the Austin Peay left-fielder allowed Hightower to score with Henry winding up at third.

After an out, Matt Smith singled to score Henry. That would be the scoring for the entire evening as two ground outs followed.

Each team was charged with just one error on a difficult night. Bianco was pleased with his team on the defensive side of the ball.

"Our defense is much better than our fielding percentage," he said. "When you look at the infield and the plays we made, the double plays and all, we've got to stop the stupid errors. We've got to stop those things. We've had too many of those. But our infield is fielding the ball well, and the outfield is making some plays. We just have to continue to play like that."

Bianco said he was also happy with the other two Rebel hurlers who appeared in the contest. Kyle Barbeck, a true freshman left-hander, went two innings giving up just one hit with one strikeout, while redshirt freshman right-hander David Goforth went the final frame with three strikeouts.

Henry went 2-for-4 and was the only other Rebel besides Mort with multiple hits. The Rebels got 9 hits to only 3 for the Governors in the contest.

Junior Evan Button, who injured a hamstring the first weekend of the season in Mobile, Ala., returned to action Wednesday night and had a first-pitch double in the eighth.


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