LEXINGTON, Ky (WKYT) -
It's hard to believe, but it has been 23 years since the Tates Creek Commodores last visited the baseball state tournament. That year, the Commodores advanced to the state finals, losing to Paintsville. Starting Monday, the Creek will enter the 11th region tournament riding a 16-game winning streak with a 29-6 record. "When we started this thing we knew we were going to be strong", says pitcher Nick Richmond. "Teams are kinda scared of us. We've had a pretty good season and our pitching has been strong and our hitting has become clutch this year." Third baseman, Jeff Chapuran, agrees. "I's good to have that momentum and confidence to go into the region knowing that we just won the district as opposed going in as a loser. I mean it gives us confidence that we know when everybody is hitting, it's going to be tough to beat us. If somebody is not hitting, the rest of the team is going to pick up the slack and somebody else is going to hit."
Watching the 'Dores against Lafayette in the 43rd district finals, the Creekers certainly have the punch at the plate to do some damage. Dom Fucci, in his 18th year as the Tates Creek coach, liked what he saw in the district finals. "Yeah. We put the ball in play well, particularly early in the game which gave our pitchers and opportunity to kinda breeze along. We got into a little trouble, but good defense and really outstanding play at the plate and on the mound."
For as much attention the hitting garners, Dom Fucci's team has allowed opponents two or fewer runs 22 times in 35 outings. To get to Whitaker Bank Ballpark, odds are, Tates Creek will have to face defending state champion Woodford County, it would be pitching vs. hitting. "We've all played on summer teams with good pitchers like that and I feel like we have a good chance," says Chapuran. "They're (Woodford County) really has good pitchers but I feel like, as hitters, we have a chance because we've faced that kind of pitching before."
After near misses to the state tournament in 2010 and 2011, the Creek feels this is the year to end a 23-year state tournament drought.
"We're a pretty good team and tough to beat. We're an all-around ballclub. We've got 11 seniors and have been through all of this and we just trust everyone on the field."