Of the nearly 13,000 people packed into Alex Box Stadium on Friday night, only one was more fired up than Bryce Jordan as he rounded bases following his dramatic grand slam, the turning point in a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Notre Dame.
That’d be his twin brother, Beau, who’d made his way over from the on-deck circle to greet him at home plate.
“No doubt I was more fired up,” Beau smiled. “I slammed my bat. You saw that? I was so excited for him.”
This reporter did, as did the television cameras. But the one person who didn’t was the man who just launched a grenade into the powder keg that was a record-setting crowd of 12,844 strong.
“I was way too pumped up to see anybody’s reactions,” Bryce said. “I’ll probably go back and look at it to see Beau’s reaction, but I’m sure everybody was pumped up. I know he was pumped. I’m sure the whole team was because it was my first hit back.”
It’s fitting that Bryce’s laser into the left-field bleachers sparked LSU to storm back from a six-run deficit for an improbable win. The Tigers looked dead in the water before he sat on a 1-2 fastball from Notre Dame southpaw Scott Tully and didn’t miss it.
Call it the comeback story within a comeback story.
Bryce was playing in in his first meaningful game since game one the 2016 Baton Rouge Super Regional against Coastal Carolina. He suffered a season-ending knee surgery a week before the start of last season, relegating him to spectator status for the entire College World Series run.
“He worked his butt off to get to where he is right now,” Beau said. “Going down a couple days before the season starts can’t be easy. He took a back seat and he watched. He watched every single one of our games. He missed it, and you can tell he’s ready for big things.”
There were certainly more butterflies for Bryce than your typical veteran player after a year and a half away from the game he loves. Not to mention the fact that he was thrust back into a starting catcher role for the first time since his days at Barbe High School.
That part was a bit of an adventure after notching only one appearance behind the plate during his first two collegiate seasons.
There was some good — he blocked many balls in the dirt, gunned down a would-be base stealer and picked a runner off first base — and some needs improvement—the Irish stole four bases and Jordan was charged with two pass balls — but he grinded it out like a catcher should.
“I had a couple of mistakes back there, but I’m going to go in and watch what I did wrong,” Bryce said. “I’m going to work on it. I’m going to take a few tips from Micah (Gibbs) and (Sean) Ochinko to get better. But I’m just happy we got the win. That was a good feeling.”
There’s perhaps only one thing that could’ve made the night better for the twins and the rest of the Jordan clan. Beau, batting behind Bryce, missed going back-to-back with his brother by about three feet with a deep drive that was caught at the warning track.
“I thought it was out,” Beau smiled. “But I’m so happy for him anyway.”