No matter what happens the rest of Ben DuBose’s life, there’s a great chance the FPD sophomore created one of his fondest memories Friday night.
DuBose hit two home runs off Georgia Tech signee and major league prospect DeAndre Smelter, and the Vikings capitalized on four Tattnall Square errors in front of an overflow home crowd for a 6-4 win in Game 1 of the GISA Class AAA state championship series.
Game 2 will be held at 1:30 p.m. today at FPD. The Vikings are seeking their first championship since 1992, while the Trojans are seeking their third straight.
“It was a memorable night, that’s for sure,” DuBose said. “I just sat on fastballs and tried to drive it.”
The home runs were two of the few mistakes Smelter made all game, but coupled with some issues on defense, the mishaps added up.
DuBose’s first home run came on an 11-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off pitch after pitch from the hard-throwing Smelter. Finally, DuBose sat on a fastball and drove the ball over the left-field fence for a two-run homer that broke open a game tied at 2.
Later in the game, DuBose was playing first base when Smelter reached. The two shared a laugh, and DuBose said after the game that Smelter simply said, “Nice hit.”
The second home run, which came in the sixth inning, was a bomb over the center-field fence that gave the Vikings an insurance run heading into the final inning.
That was when FPD ace Jordan Corbitt took over. After Tattnall got the tying run on first base, Corbitt struck out Jackson Morgan and Ryan Mosley to end the game. Following the strikeouts, Corbitt spiked his glove on the ground. It was the final bit of energy the senior had.
“I’m just drained,” a slouching Corbitt said. “I was just so happy it was over.”
Corbitt struck out nine to run his record to 13-0.
He got some big help from his outfield in the fifth inning when the Vikings threw out Tattnall players at the plate twice in the inning.
The first came when Nick Mullis threw out Grant Nicholson at the plate on a single by Smelter. After the Trojans scored one run on a sacrifice fly and got another on a double, Hunter Wilkinson was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on Mosley’s double to end the inning.
“The first one was my fault,” Tattnall head coach Joey Hiller said, “but we have to score from first base on a double with two outs.”
Instead of leading by a run, the game was tied at 4 until FPD scored in the fifth inning. Corbitt reached second to lead off the inning on a two-base error. He scored shortly thereafter on a botched run down for a 5-4 lead.
“I think when we play our best baseball, we are the best team in the state,” Hiller said. “When we don’t, we are a very average team. (Friday), we were average.”
Despite the home runs allowed, Smelter (9-2) had a solid game. Of the 18 outs he recorded, he got 12 on strikeouts. He allowed as many hits in the game — four, with two being DuBose’s home runs — as the Trojans committed errors.
“He was tough, and he just kept getting better with each inning,” FPD head coach Jim Turner said.
Both teams scored their first two runs as a result of errors.