DEVILLE: Tigers back in the SEC hunt

Holy "Smokes" – literally!

Just when most people had counted out Smoke Laval and his Tigers, LSU came roaring back with the most dominating performance of the season sweeping the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, then following up with two wins at Vanderbilt.


After taking two of three wins from Ole Miss three weekends ago, fans thought the Tigers had righted the ship. But coming out on the short end of an 11-8 decision against arch rival Tulane, the boo-bears were out in force once again. However things seem to be back on track with three decisive victories over the Hawgs then an impressive showing in Nashville, a particularly difficult place to play and win.


While Laval and these Tigers still have their critics, credit must be given where credit is due and all the credit in the world to Laval and his LSU club after marching into Fayetteville and dominating defending SEC Co-Champion Arkansas. A year ago, Dave Van Horn's club came into Baton Rouge and swept the Tigers en route to the SEC Western Division title and a piece of the league crown.


Laval and Co. repaid the favor over the weekend behind a pair of the most dominating pitching performances in recent years. Clay Dirks pitched a three-hit, complete game shutout and Greg Smith held the Hawgs off the scoreboard on Sunday going the distance. LSU pitching held Arkansas scoreless the final five innings of Friday's victory and the rest of the weekend to produce 23 straight run-free frames of baseball.




It was the first time two Tiger pitchers combined for back-to-back complete game shutouts since Lane Mestepey and Brian Wilson did so on consecutive Friday and Saturday starts in the 2002 season at Alex Box Stadium against who else – Arkansas.


The series versus the Commodores was almost equally as impressive with Dirks and Smith doing their deal again, with Smith getting his fourth straight shutout victory.

With three SEC series remaining including a pair of home weekends against Kentucky and Tennessee, the LSU baseball team is in pretty good shape. While it looked a few weeks back as if the Tigers could possibly miss the SEC Tournament, a strong showing at Vanderbilt has Laval's crew possibly in the mix for the league title – but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.




If you want to know about Les Miles' football Tigers, our most recent is the issue for you.


We break down the Tigers position by position and give you the inside scoop as to who we think is going here and there. In our opinion, it is going to JaMarcus Russell under center and Evangel Christian product Chase Pittman is likely going to fill the vacated spot at defensive left empty by Marcus Spears.




Speaking of Spears, the Baton Rouge native was taken in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys in last weekend's NFL Draft. Several Tigers got tabbed in the draft, including Travis Daniels, who is going to play for former coach Nick Saban down in Miami.




Be looking in next week's issue for our special Spring Recruiting Preview. Recruiting Editor Sonny Shipp breaks down the hottest prospects for next season in our exclusive spring recruiting edition. Get all the names, heights and weights, along with Sonny's take on who's hot and who's not with the extended Tiger Rag Spring Top 30.



Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine. He can be reached by e-mail at

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