LSU Coach Not Blowing Smoke

FAYETTEVILLE -- LSU coach Raymond Laval has been called a lot of things, but folks who know him best simply call him "Smoke."

In fact, the fourth-year Tigers' coach goes by his nickname so often that some fans think it's his actual name and even sports stories quote him as "Smoke Laval" instead of "Raymond Laval."

So how did Ray become Smoke?

"Marijuana was big when I was growing up in the 70s," Laval said, jokingly. "That's what I tell everybody, but that, of course, is not what it's all about."

The 2003 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year grew up in McDonald, Pa. At the time, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a talented left-hand hitting catcher named Smokey Burgess.

"I was a left-hand hitting catcher, too, so somebody started calling me ‘Smoke' and somehow, it's stuck ever since," Laval said. "I couldn't catch like (Burgess), but I was a pretty good hitter."

Laval, who has piloted the Tigers to the College World Series the past two seasons, joins a long list of LSU coaches with catchy nicknames. Legendary baseball coach Skip Bertman's real first name is Stanley.

In addition, former LSU first-base coach Dwayne Bailey was widely known as "Beetle" and current hitting coach Henry Thomas goes by "Turtle."

Marquardt Injured

Hogs second baseman John Henry Marquardt was replaced early in Saturday's 7-0 loss to LSU because of an injury. He suffered swelling in his right knee after running to first on a ground out.

Marquardt apparently was cleated while playing in the field during Friday's 10-7 Arkansas loss.

"He was a hurt a little bit and didn't tell me naturally," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "But he's had four knee surgeries, two on both knees.

"He's going to have to fight through it ... We're running out of healthy players."

For Starters

Two batters into Saturday's loss, there was action in the Hogs' bullpen as starter James Gilbert already had given up consecutive singles and thrown a wild pitch.

Gilbert was relieved by Shaun Seibert with two outs in the inning after Clay Harris' double off the right-center field wall made it 2-0. Both runs were earned and Gilbert threw only 18 pitches.

Hammer Time

Arkansas sophomore Danny Hamblin, who has been nicknamed "Hammer" by teammates, recorded the first Hogs' hit Saturday when he singled up the middle with one out in the fourth.

It extended his team-high hitting streak to 15 games.

Another Razorback, Craig Gentry, extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-out single in the eighth inning.

On TV Today

Today's series finale between LSU and Arkansas starts at 1:05 p.m. and will be televised in Arkansas and Louisiana. In Northwest Arkansas, fans can catch the game on KPBI Fox 46 while folks in Little Rock can tune into KWBF WB 42.

In Louisiana, the game will be shown on the Jumbo Sports Network.

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