Weekly walk-up: JB Bukauskas shares reasoning for music choice

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North Carolina pitcher J.B. Bukaukas (38) prepares to throw out the season opening pitch against Kentucky on February 17.

North Carolina's baseball pitchers face a tough task: choosing a walkout song for warm-ups. UNC ace and Friday night starter J.B. Bukauskas spoke with senior writer Will Bryant about the reasoning behind his choice in Weekly Walk-up.

The song

"God's Gonna Cut You Down," by Johnny Cash.

The process

Bukauskas, like Gianluca Dalatri, came in to college without ever having to choose a walkout song, but for Bukauskas, it turned out to be an easy task. He found his song in his inaugural campaign as a Tar Heel in 2014 and never looked back. A simple process, but it was the right one in this case.

"I've kept it since my freshman year," he said. "My high school didn't really do that, so I just kinda picked it when I got here. I had some input from some other guys. I looked around and found that one and liked it, so I guess I'll stick with it."

The meaning

The song brings an ominous vibe with it, which is fitting for Bukauskas's presence on the mound — it's a slow-building tune that all but parallels Bukauskas's style on the rubber. The hard-throwing righty confirmed that the song is all about the feel for him on the mound.

"Nothing really super special, I mean, I just like the song," he said. "I think it's a good walkout for a starter, so I just kinda went with it. It's been working, so I just might stick with it."

But J.B., what if someone else had requested it this season? Would there have been a song swap?

"I probably would have been like, 'Hey, like I use that, I've been using that,'" he said with a look of "what-if" on his face, before looking up with a smile. "Luckily nobody did."

The superstition

Bukauskas has been electric this year for UNC. He's a top prospect across the board and a key piece for the Tar Heels' pitching staff. He hasn't run into too much trouble so far this season, but even if he did, he insists his song is staying put.

"I'm gonna keep going, it's … not that big of a deal, especially a walkout song, it is what it is," he said. "I definitely think I'll keep it, I'm not too superstitious. Honestly, I like the song, so I'll keep it going."

The opinion

Players and fans alike rave to J.B.'s walkout song. It's a perfect fit for the flame-throwing starter who anchors the Tar Heels' weekend rotation. The song's lyrics "Run on for a long time, sooner or later God'll cut you down," are not purposefully referring to Bukauskas' heater, but the words coincidentally fit in perfectly with his repertoire.

"I think they think it's a good song," he said, "kinda fitting for me to try and come out and get us off to a good start on the weekends."

The value

It can be difficult to step out on the rubber in the zone every time, and Bukauskas admits the song does help him channel his energy. He uses his song to get his mindset right. To lock in and find that zone when he toes the rubber.

"It's kinda locking in," he said. "I guess it does help get in a frame of mind where I'm ready to go and compete, so I think it's more for me than everyone else."

The verdict

B+: Another rock-solid choice from a UNC weekend arm. The lyrics and mood of this one are perfect for Bukauskas' come-at-you style on the mound. The righty will work in the zone and dare batters to hit him, which is the exact vibe given off from this timeless Johnny Cash tune.

So far for the weekly walkups, it seems hitters have more superstitions than pitchers with their music. But pitchers utilize theirs more. Both Dalatri and Bukauskas spoke of their walkouts as vehicles for zoning in, while Brian Miller saw his as a family-friendly mood setter.

Tune in next week to see whose walkup is dissected.

@WBOD3

sports@dailytarheel.com

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