Hoover Metropolitan Stadium has a bullpen just inside the left-field fence. Bryce Jordan lingered there into the late hours of April 2, his task to catch LSU’s continuing carousel of relief pitchers in a game tied at 5 after 13 innings.
His twin brother, Beau, was making his first conference start just feet away in left field. A stocky 5-foot-9, 205-pound true freshman, he shared an outfield with Mark Laird and Andrew Stevenson — lankier, speedier veterans more apt to track what was about to be hit his way.
Alabama’s Georgie Salem laced a ball over Beau’s head with one out in the 14th. Chandler Avant sprinted from first on contact, the ball destined for the base of the wall that Bryce peered through.
“I was like ‘Oh no,’ ” Bryce said. “ ‘Game’s over.’ ”
Turning his back, Beau raced toward the ball, extending his glove and making a jumping catch, sliding up to fire in for a 7-6-3 double play to end the potential game-winning threat.
“It’s weird,” Bryce said, “but I feel like 50 percent of his plays are like that.”
Pegged as Paul Mainieri’s opening day cleanup hitter and left fielder, Beau admits he’s not the model LSU outfielder.
Tigers outfields of the past two seasons featured three center fielder-type athletes: Laird, Stevenson and Jake Fraley. Balls hit in the gap were easily tracked, and highlight catches were routine.
Now listed four pounds heavier at 209, Beau — a left fielder throughout his high school career — won’t wow onlookers with his speed, though Bryce claims when his twin’s “little legs” get going, they’re faster than most would assume.
“In the recruiting process, (LSU coaches) told me ‘You’re rare because we typically don’t go after left fielders or right fielders, because I don’t have their speed,” Beau said. “I’m trying to make up for it with my reads, trying to get out there and practice every day off the bat live.”
Routine plays are Beau’s strength. To ensure it remains that way, fungo machines dart balls when the weather is bad or sunlight is irritating, an ideal time for Beau to shore up his reads.
And that game-saving play against Alabama? He’s already recreated it in spring practice.
Brody Wofford sent an opposite-field shot down the left- field line. Beau raced over, slid to corral the ball and zipped a throw to nab a speedy Brennan Breaux, who was attempting to go first to third.
“Everybody that’s going to see him this year is going to see how much better (he is) defensively from last year to this year,” Fraley said. “Balls that are in the gap, he makes them look a lot easier, gets to them a lot quicker. I think we (outfielders) lean on each other as well, too, we talk to each other, we try to help each other, critique each other.”
Watching Beau conjures Mainieri’s memories of Raph Rhymes — another cleanup- hitting left fielder who initially gave some reservations about his defensive prowess.
Rhymes, Mainieri said, turned himself into a serviceable outfielder.
“And I think Beau probably is a little better than him in the outfield,” Mainieri said. “The guy is just absolutely a baller. It’s not going to be what you would look at on a ‘How to do’ tape, but he’s just a battler.”