Barring an extensive postseason run, the Stone Bridge baseball team is likely to fall short of the 16-win total it has achieved each season since joining the Virginia AAA in 2006.
One thing for certain is that sophomore right-hander JB Bukauskas, who committed to North Carolina last summer, has done his part. In 45 innings, he has allowed four runs (two earned), struck out 75 and walked 11 and has a 0.31 ERA.
The problem is that as Bukauskas has put up zeroes, so have the defending Liberty District regular season and tournament champion Bulldogs (8-10, 6-6). Coach Sam Plank twice has removed Bukauskas (3-2) from 0-0 games in the seventh inning because he has reached his pitch count.
Bukauskas was scheduled to start the game Tuesday night against Marshall that has been postponed by rain to Wednesday.
“It’s unbelievable the season he’s having,” Plank said. “He can’t do any more. He just does it day in, day out no matter what happens. He prepares every day for his next start and he’s becoming a leader.
“It’s just hard to look at him out there and think he just turned 16. He’s a complete pitcher. He runs his fastball 92-94 [mph]. His slider is off the charts. His change-up is off the charts. He has command of his three pitches in any count. He fields his position. He’s the whole package.”
Bukauskas is taking courses that could enable him to graduate after his junior season at Stone Bridge so that he can start at UNC a year earlier. It’s hard not to think that many Liberty District coaches would be high-fiving each other at the pitcher’s graduation ceremony if it came in 2014 and not 2015.
Graduating after his junior year would preclude Bukauskas from getting drafted out of high school, but he would be a year younger than he otherwise would have been as a potential draftee following his junior year in Chapel Hill.
“He could be one of their leading starters right now,” Plank said. “How many kids come along that have this kind of skill and potential?”