The word used most frequently after the No. 1 Razorbacks beat Western Illinois, 7-2, no matter where they sat: COLD. Or, for those who were a bit more creative, they said, "It's icy hot."
Batting practice was moved inside for the pre-game because it was 26 degrees at 10 a.m. for the noon start. Frost on the field almost caused infield practice to be canceled.
But it didn't stop the Arkansas pitchers from another solid outing with junior righthander Barrett Astin working the first five innings despite the chilly conditions to give the Hogs a 2-0 start.
Leftfielder Matt Vinson slapped a two-run double in the second inning, then the Hogs exploded for four runs to put the game away in the sixth, the first time temperatures rose above the freezing mark.
"I was proud of the team for playing hard," said Dave Van Horn, the Arkansas coach. "It was really cold down on the field. We had no early BP so it probably affected both teams.
"Barrett pitched pretty good on a day that was really tough to pitch and hit. It was a good day for a quick game."
It took only one hour, 58 minutes for the game. All three UA pitchers were around the plate. Astin walked one while relievers Jalen Beeks and Thomas Altimont issued no free passes.
"I thought Astin got in some good innings, but he usually has a little more control of his fast ball," Van Horn said. "It was a little bit cold, though. You want to be able to feel the ball and it's tough to pitch on a day like today. It does make a difference."
Astin it was a tough day to "get loose. It took a few more pitches today. That was not my best stuff, just average. I hope I can be better by the next time. You just try to stay loose and warm in the dugout, but we have pretty good gear."
Astin and Van Horn both praised Beeks, the lefty junior college transfer from Prairie Grove. He threw 35 pitches, 28 for strikes.
"That was impressive," Astin said. "Everything he throws moves. He'll be dominant out of the bullpen for us this year."
Van Horn said, "Beeks has a fast ball in the upper 80s and a hard change in the 80s. And he's got a hard slider. The lefthanders thought his slider was a fast ball and they had a tough time with him."
Van Horn called Vinson's two-out, two-strike hit in the second "the big one of the game." It came after a slow start to the game.
"You understand it a little because it was so cold," he said. "Everything was in slow motion in these temperatures.
"Then we put together the big inning in the sixth. We had one yesterday, too. Anytime you put three or more on the board in today's era of the modified bats it's a real good inning."
Vinson said he was "just trying to compete" with the full count in the second.
"We've worked a lot on two-strike approach," he said. "I was just lucky to get it through the four-hole (into right field).
"We did well today. It was cold yesterday and cold today. It's tough on your body and mentally. We were out there for a long inning once yesterday and that's tough, so to get back in quick all day today was big. You saw one of my throws get away from me today. It's tough to play on a day like this."
The Hogs got RBI hits from Joe Serrano (single) and Jake Wise (double) in their big sixth inning. Serrano scored twice, drove in two and was on base three times in his first outing.
The Hogs play host to the Leathernecks at 1:05 p.m. Sunday to close the series.
"It's tough to beat a team three times in a row," Van Horn said. "We'll have to play well Sunday."
It may be a red-hot Sunday. High temperatures for the series finale are forecast to be near 60.
Shortstop Brett McAfee fires for an out at first.
Jalen Beeks pitched scoreless relief.
Eric Fisher runs the bases.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated