IN FOCUS: Bryce Jordan
Communications Graduate Assistant
The crowd at Alex Box Stadium was massive. There were more than 12,000 fans in the stands for the opening night contest against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.The crowd at Alex Box Stadium was massive. There were more than 12,000 fans in the stands for the opening night contest against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
It felt like postseason at The Box, and Bryce Jordan was amped for the start of the 2018 season.
In the bottom of the first, Jordan swung on a 2-1 count and sent the ball straight to the rightfielder for the final out of the inning, stranding the bases loaded. He flied out to right field again in the fourth inning, but he was seeing the ball well. Antoine Duplantis drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and Zach
Watson followed with a single through the left side. Daniel Cabrera followed with a walk to load the bases, and the momentum had officially taken over the LSU dugout and swung in the Tigers’ favor.
The third time was the charm for Bryce Jordan. The junior would be lying if he said he was not nervous. He had missed his opportunity the first time, but was not going to let this one slip away.
With a 1-2 count, Jordan saw what he had been looking for—a change-up thrown by the Irish left-hander. He unleashed the ball over the left-field wall and blacked out rounding the bases.
His twin brother, Beau, was in the on-deck circle, screaming at the top of his lungs so much so that his vision was blurry.
It was the second time in a little over a year that Bryce had lost his vision on the field at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. This time, for a much better reason.
On February 7, 2017, Bryce was filling in at third base for an injury-ridden LSU squad. He had played the hot corner in high school and had manned the position a few times during his freshman season at LSU.
During one of the last practices before the beginning of the season, a batter ripped a ball sky-high on the left side of the infield. Bryce trailed the ball and cut back to make the play when he heard a pop. Then, his knee gave out.
Bryce tore his ACL and was ruled out for the 2017 season.
“I felt like I had let my team down just getting hurt,” Bryce said. “I know I didn’t, but I felt that way. I had been working so hard.”
He was coming off of a season where he was named 2016 First-Team All SEC at the designated hitter/utility positon. He had played in 58 games with 54 starts, batted .293 with seven doubles, five home runs, 33 RBI and 40 runs.
He had been hit by an SEC-best 23 pitches and the most by an LSU player since at least 1984, which propelled him to the second-best on-base percentage on the team, .419.
After surgery, Bryce put in countless hours in the weight room and in the athletic training room in an attempt to help his team by the time postseason play started. By late May, he had begun a miraculous comeback and started swinging the bat and taking batting practice again, hoping to crack the lineup.
“I was trying to make a push for the end of the season, trying to get back, trying to hurry up,” Bryce explained. “The team was on a 17-game win streak, but there was no point to push me back and put me in a role where I haven’t seen live pitching for a while and put me in a bad spot with a lot of pressure to perform.”
He waited and waited for his moment. Every night, the Lake Charles, La., native would sit in his bed visualizing the next chance he would get at the plate in a live game, and he finally had put his dreams into reality on February 16, 2018, one year and nine days after his baseball career came to an abrupt halt.
With that one swing of the bat in the bottom of the sixth against Notre Dame, the crowd went bonkers and knew the ball was gone. Bryce had put the Tigers within two runs on Opening Night to spark his comeback. LSU went on to post a 7-6 victory.
"It was just a fairytale beginning of the story, and we have a whole season to go,” Bryce said. “I’m ready to go out there and play and see what we can do this season.”