Boyce Better In Warmer Weather

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Evidently, Arkansas' Charley Boyce is a warm weather pitcher.

Overnight rains and temperatures in the upper 70s resulted in a sultry Les Murakami Stadium onWednesday afternoon. Boyce retired 13 batters in a row at one point to turn in his best outing of the short season during the No. 11 Razorbacks' 12-4 win against Texas-Arlington in the Rainbow Tournament.

The game was moved up three and a half hours after Tuesday's late game between Texas-Arlington and Hawaii was postponed due to rain. Arkansas is scheduled to play Hawaii at 10:35 p.m. today.

Wednesday's early start produced warmer weather than a later start would've and had humidity high on the AstroTurf playing surface, which still was soaked when the game started.

That made for peak conditions for Boyce, who has long thought to be a warm weather pitcher since he'd gotten off to a slow start in each of the previous three seasons in a Hogs' uniform.

"I think mentally (the weather) helped him," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "He got through the first inning and then he was really sharp in the second, third and fourth innings. He was spotting it on both sides of the plate and a couple of times, he got a good sink on his fastball. He looked like the old Charley Boyce.

"He'll build off of this one and continue to get better."

Until Wednesday, there really was no concrete proof that Boyce performed better in warm weather, since temperatures in the south gradually would rise and didn't give a night and day difference in conditions from one start to the next.

With temperatures in the 50s in his last start, Boyce lasted 3 1/3 innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits against Louisiana Tech.

Boyce, a fifth-year senior right-hander, wasn't throwing any harder than usual (his fastball was consistently between 81-83 mph), but the results definitely were better. A looser arm caused his pitches to dance in and out of the strike zone, causing Texas-Arlington to foul off or completely miss most pitches.

"Anytime it's hot and muggy and I get to sweating, I like it a lot more than say when it's 50 degrees," Boyce said. "Just being able to stay loose and not tighten up during the game because it's so humid, it makes a difference for me for whatever reason.

"I could kind of feel from the get-go warming up that everything was just kind of falling into place."

Boyce pitched into the sixth inning (his longest outing this season) while allowing two earned runs on four hits to record the win, his first decision in four starts.

"He threw better, but he's still trying to do too much," said Hogs catcher Brian Walker. "He needs to just let it go and let things happen like he did at the end of last year and he started to do a little bit of that (Wednesday)."

Arkansas' offense erupted for 18 hits, one shy of tying a season high, after being held to a season-low four hits in Tuesday's 5-2 loss against Washington and All-American pitcher Tim Lincecum.

It faced a drastic contrast in styles in less than a 24-hour period. Lincecum was a power right-hander with a fastball in the mid-90s while Wednesday's starter, Kyle Gainley, was a crafty left-hander with a fastball in the low 80s and a big breaking ball.

"We knew it was going to be a big difference," Van Horn said. "I talked to our hitters about it before the game that we wanted to stay over the ball and try to go the other way. We didn't hit the ball really hard early, but at least we got some hits and put a little pressure on them by getting the lead.

"And we put together a couple of good innings."

Some of the better innings came in the fifth and seventh as eight of the team's 12 runs were scored in those two innings. Danny Hamblin tied a tournament record with two homers and a career-high with five RBIs. Stephen Robison recorded the first three-hit game of his career.

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