Obvious Progress

Every year the baseball team is looking for a few more good arms as the season moves on. The way Brett Bukvich pitched Tuesday night means there's renewed hope for the fifth-year senior.

It was his 19th win in a lengthy and often times productive career. But Bukvich has normally been one that might give you a terrific outing, and then come back the next time with a less effective one.

Against New Orleans in the 7-0 Ole Miss win Wednesday night, the left-hander said everything was working and he used all he had.

"I used a four-pitch mix tonight and really kept them off balance," said Bukvich, with a 3.86 ERA in eight appearances, six of them starts this season.

He's 4-1 on the year and said he has continued to work hard to get things right.

"I felt good (before the game Wednesday night)," he said. "I threw a pen on Sunday, and we worked on just staying back and kinda riding it out a little bit more. I was falling forward and leaking with my front side, which was making me leave a lot of pitches up. Working on staying back really helped me and I was able to deliver."

After some not so stellar outings against Memphis and Alabama in his last two starts, Bukvich admitted he needed a three-hit, no-run, seven K, two walk game like he pitched against UNO.

"It definitely helped," he said of his confidence level. "In the (recent) past outings, I tried to take what I could that could build my confidence and just flush the rest."

Bukvich said at times he has to regroup and remember what got him to this point in his career while also using new aspects he's learned.

"In the offseason I sped up my tempo a little bit," he said. "I have a real quick start when I go through my wind up, and it makes me want to rush out a little bit. Coach had to pull me aside and tell me to remember to gather. He liked the tempo and everything but he told me I still had to gather. That helped me out so much."

Kyle Barbeck, the talented true freshman left-hander, pitched against the Privateers Wednesday night. Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said the team wants to count on him this season as well as other pitchers who don't see a lot of action.

"We need him," Bianco said of Barbeck. "We need him to pitch (more this season). And we got Wade (Broyles) in. Wade hadn't thrown in a few weeks, and for him to come in and make it look like he's pitching every day, as a coach that makes you feel pretty good."

Barbeck and Broyles each pitched an inning Wednesday night, facing only three batters with no damage.

Bianco said Bukvich's performance can do nothing but help him in the games ahead.

"Anytime you have success, it feeds your confidence, and that's a good thing," he said. "Brett has been here for a while, and he's had some tough starts and some great starts and great performances in big games. He believes in himself, but it's nice to see him pitch like this. It's more like the Brett Bukvich we all know."

The Rebels, now 24-8, have won eight games in a row. The two games prior to that streak they lost by only one run each. It is a team that has played well for a while now.

"It's the sign of a good ballclub coming around with good defense, timely hitting, and good pitching," Bukvich said. "We've been doing that the last eight games. We just need to keep it up."

Bianco said the mental approach of this year's team is excellent. He said he sees a higher level in a lot of areas for this team, mainly comparing them to last year's team which was talented but not as successful in close games.

"This year's team to this point has shown more mental toughness," he said. "They've shown a little more confidence and a little more competitiveness. Those things are good things in this game."

Logan Power, another fifth-year Rebel, said the team is definitely feeling good about itself currently. But to continue to win as they have will be a challenge given the competition.

"SEC games are always really tough," said Power, as the Rebels host South Carolina this weekend. "There are tough teams every weekend. We just have to stay focused and battle."

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