The lights, with their bright-hued tint glinting off the dusky sky, served as a reminder of what Friday nights in this part of the world typically resemble.
But on this particular weekend-starting evening, there were no busloads of cheerleaders and bands brought to the field under the fancy lights. There were no big banners with inspirational messages unfurled for teams to run through.
Instead, was players themselves created the buzz so electric that the closer a spectator stood to the field, the greater their chances increased of seeing sharp bolts jump off bats and leave the ballpark.
On a Friday night deep in the heart of football country, this was baseball at its finest. And boy, in this city and in this region, was it a sight to see.
In front of an overflow crowd — eyeball estimates could argue at least 1,500 people were on hand, easily — at Ben Harden Memorial Field, Macon high school baseball powerhouses Tattnall Square and FPD collided on the field in a game that had all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster.
“I’ve never seen this many people even at our school, it’s crazy,” FPD first baseman Ben DuBose said. “You could look back to right field and see people going 10 rows back.”
The movies couldn’t have written a better script.
There was the star pitcher for the Vikings, the wiry, wily Jordan Corbitt pitted against a much bigger, more hulky, flame-throwing DeAndre Smelter. Two of the best pitchers in GISA baseball — if not the entire state — the two entered the game with a combined 21-1 record and had a state championship standing between them.
Adding to their resumes were these little nuggets: The two played Little League together at North Macon, and this fall, they could be headed to the same college. Corbitt is expecting to enroll at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where he is hoping to walk on to the Yellow Jackets’ perennial conference and national tournament-contending team. Smelter, a top flight major league draft prospect, has already signed to take a scholarship to play for the Yellow Jackets, as well.
There were other story lines, too — such as the power-on-power battle between Smelter and sweet-singing FPD center fielder Taylor Jones.
Bringing six home runs and a .464 batting average into the contest, Jones, the son of a big leaguer, was looking to catch up to some of his counterpart’s 93 mph-plus fastball and deposit them into the eager hands of the fans sitting on risers behind the right-field fence.
As it turned out, Jones went 0-for-3, striking out twice to add to Smelter’s 12-punch out total. Instead, it would be DuBose, a player who entered with just two homers on the year, who delivered the big blows, uncorking a two-run bomb to left field at the end of a 11-pitch, fourth-inning at-bat and then adding a solo shot two innings later to seal FPD’s 6-4 Game 1 victory.
“When I was rounding second (after second homer) I kept saying, ‘How does this happen? This guy is like the greatest pitcher I’ll ever face,’ ” DuBose said.
Then there was this story line: Tattnall has won three of the past five GISA titles, while FPD — currently in its final year in the GISA — hasn’t claimed one since 1992.
All of these things contributed to one of the best sporting nights Middle Georgia has seen this side of a Northside-Warner Robins football game or a Northeast-Central basketball game.
It was a good sight to see and one that could be repeated today.
Contact Coley Harvey at 744-4248 or firstname.lastname@example.org