Pitcher Jacob Bukauskas has captured the attention of the Virginia baseball community during his two-plus seasons at Stone Bridge High School.
During his freshman season in 2012, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound, right-handed Bukauskas posted a 7-1 record and recorded 76 strikeouts in 60 innings, earning Liberty District Pitcher of the Year and first-team all-Northern Region honors.
Bukauskas avoided a sophomore slump in 2013. He compiled a 7-2 record with a 0.53 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 66 innings, helping lead the Bulldogs to the second round of the Northern Region playoffs. For his efforts, Bukauskas again won District Pitcher of the Year and was named Northern Region Pitcher of the Year. He also garnered second-team All-State honors in Group AAA.
Thanks in part to his success on the mound, Bukauskas reclassified up to the Class of 2014 during the winter. After he graduates in June, Bukauskas plans to head south to begin his college baseball career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A native of Ashburn, Va., Bukauskas spoke with PressBoxDC.com about Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray's influence on his game, his decision to commit to North Carolina and his desire to play in the major leagues one day.
PressBox: How did you first get involved in baseball?
Jacob Bukauskas: My dad first introduced me to baseball when I was 7 or 8 years old. I really like how baseball can teach you things that don't just apply to athletics.
PB: Who are some of your major influences?
JB: Lately, the person I've been trying to model my pitching after is Sonny Gray. My dad has been a major influence, along with coach [Sam] Plank; John Pinkman, who is my private pitching instructor; and Sean Griffin, my high school pitching coach.
PB: What have you learned during time at Stone Bridge that has prepared you to take the next step in your baseball career?
JB: I have learned so much in my years at Stone Bridge. I have learned how to compete since freshman year with people that were older than me, and I developed a work ethic and drive that will help me pursue all goals in baseball.
PB: As you continue your senior season, what do you hope to accomplish by the end of the season?
JB: I have many goals as a senior at Stone Bridge. My end goal is to win a state title with this team. We have a great team and have the ability to accomplish that goal, in my opinion.
PB: Why did you decide to commit to play your college ball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill?
JB: Some things that have made me decide on North Carolina are the baseball program, campus and the academic portion. They were all major factors in choosing North Carolina. Also, the coaching staff is second to none at North Carolina. There are no other coaches I would rather play for.
PB: As one of the top-ranked players in your class, do you see yourself taking your game to the next level and playing major league baseball one day?
JB: It's every kid's dream to play their sport professionally. I am no different. I would love to end up playing pro ball and in the big leagues, down the line. All I can do is continue to work hard and hope for the best, and hopefully I can accomplish that goal.