The struggles of junior college transfer Aaron Barrett, the first Friday night starter out of the chute for Ole Miss, have been well-documented.
Pitching overall has been pretty good, and the 12th-ranked Rebels will need to send their best arms forward against No. 24 Alabama this weekend.
That will include a newcomer to the rotation, though it’s a name most Ole Miss fans will recognize: senior Brett Bukvich.
First pitch at Swayze Field is at 6:30 tonight. Game time is 1:30 p.m. for both Saturday and Sunday.
Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 3.27 ERA) will pitch for the Rebels this evening.
Alabama (14-5, 2-1 SEC) is tied for the SEC lead in hitting at .346 and is second in home runs at 39.
Barrett was the Rebels (13-4, 2-1) Game 3 starter last Sunday at Vanderbilt and had a no-decision when the Rebels missed an opportunity to sweep with a 7-6 loss.
Both junior college transfers – Barrett and Chris Corrigan – have struggled, posting earned run averages higher than 11 per game.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco hopes both are simply taking a longer time to transition to Division I baseball. He compared Barrett’s problems to a hitter’s slump.
“We starts as physical becomes mental when you don’t take the same approach. I think that’s happened to Aaron. He got to the point where he knew his opportunities were starting to be limited, as they would for anybody.”
Barrett has walked just three batters and struck out 16, but he’s given up 17 earned runs and 29 hits in 13 2/3 innings.
Bianco said the focus for Barrett will be to find more consistency with his location, and he’ll look for mid-week opportunities to use the junior right-hander and help him regain his confidence.
The Sunday ball now goes to Bukvich, a fifth-year senior who threw 204 innings with a 4.50 ERA over his first three seasons.
Limited with injury problems, Bukvich threw a career-low 44 innings last season. He was healthier near the end of the season and had solid postseason outings against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament and against Missouri in the Coral Gables, Fla., Regional. He currently leads the Ole Miss staff with a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings.
“Brett’s been a weekend starter before. He’s pitched in big games, in regionals and in super regionals, and he’s certainly pitched well this year,” Bianco said.
– Tonight: Ole Miss LHP Drew Pomerans (1-0, 3.27) vs. Alabama RHP Austin Hyatt (4-0, 2.00)
– Saturday: Ole Miss RHP Phillip Irwin (3-0, 1.59) vs. Alabama LHP Adam Morgan (3-0, 3.33)
– Sunday: Ole Miss LHP Brett Bukvich (3-0, 0.90) vs. TBA
Parrish Alford/Daily Journal