There might be a tendency to focus on 19 hits in a 21-4 victory over Mississippi Valley, but the best news in the Arkansas victory on a rainy Tuesday at Baum Stadium could have been the 15 pitches thrown by James Teague.
The junior pitcher from Bartlesville had not thrown a competitive inning since the final game of the Super Regional against Missouri State, the game that sent the Razorbacks to the College World Series. Teague was diagnosed with a stress reaction in the elbow and shut down for the summer and fall. He was magnificent against Valley.
Teague pitched the third inning with beautiful results. The new digital radar gun reading on the Baum scoreboard said Teague hit 94 mph once and was consistently in the low 90s as he struck out three of the four batters he faced.
"He could have pitched Sunday," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He was ready. But we wanted to give him two more days. We wanted him to throw one inning today and be ready out of the bullpen this weekend."
Teague is considered one of the Hogs' top three or four pitchers and slated for relief work this season, although he's a capable starter, too. He had some arm fatigue and soreness in early February in his comeback from the elbow issue last spring.
"It felt good to be back out there," Teague said. "I'd been off for awhile. I'm glad to be healthy again."
Teague wasn't surprised there was a 94 readout on the board.
"In relief, you can use a little more," he said. "You can reach back knowing you aren't going to be out there for long. I think I have a little more velocity than last year, but I am not going to get caught up in trying to hit a high number."
Van Horn didn't see the numbers on the board.
"It did look like he had good velocity," he said. "It's good to have him back. He's one of our veterans and is a big part of our staff and our bullpen."
The Hogs (4-0) toyed with the visitors, putting up five in each of the first two innings. Clark Eagan, Luke Bonfield and Austin Catron each had two-run homers on the day.
Bonfield, sophomore outfielder, had three hits and five RBI. His homer in the second was aided by a 25 mph north wind. His fly landed just barely in the Valley bullpen over the fence in right field.
The game was played in 45-degree chill, made tougher by rain. It was a light mist at the 3:05 p.m. first pitch, but was heavier by the end.
"I was in center field at the start and the right side of my face was numb," Eagan said. "The wind was brutal."
Eagan's shot landed 20 feet beyond the bullpen in right and would have been a homer on any day. Catron's homer was a line drive that barely cleared the fence.
Freshman catcher Grant Koch had three hits and four RBI. Freshman Eric Cole had two hits and has now had a hit to leadoff all four games.
Mississippi Valley State (0-5) came to Fayetteville with just 17 players, listing only six as pitchers. All 17 on the roster are righthanders. Cole Gullett, who rotated between second base and the mound, had a two-run homer for Valley.
The Hogs will play host to Valley at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday to finish the series. Freshman lefty Weston Rogers will pitch for the Hogs.
"He'll go two innings and then we'll use some other guys for short work," Van Horn said. "These type games are good for some young guys to get their feet wet. We had some guys get their first hits like Darien Sims and Jack Benninghoff."