For a few giddy minutes Thursday night, Tates Creek flirted with its first district baseball title in 24 years.
Ryan Fucci smacked a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to give the Commodores a one-run lead over host Lexington Christian Academy in the 43rd District title game.
But Tates Creek's euphoria didn't last long.
LCA rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh to tie it, and the Eagles won it 6-5 on Steven Hoagland's walk-off homer in the eighth.
"Probably the biggest hit I've ever had," the senior catcher said before getting a celebratory ice-water shower from a teammate.
LCA Coach Keith Galloway wasn't surprised by the dramatic final innings of the championship game.
"That's the 43rd District; that's what it's all about," he said.
No. 6 LCA and No. 9 Tates Creek both advance to next week's 11th Region tournament at Franklin County.
Commodores Coach Dom Fucci's team had to play three games in four days, while LCA only had to play two.
After a nine-inning win over Lafayette in the semifinals, Tates Creek was left to pitch by committee, and it showed in the finals.
Fucci used seven pitchers, and most of them had trouble finding the plate. They issued nine walks and hit four other batters.
"We basically handed it to them, putting those 13 guys on base," Fucci said. "We couldn't throw strikes. We gave them opportunities and they took advantage.
"Give them credit, but I was proud of the way our guys competed under tough circumstances."
LCA's Austin Bundy had two RBI on a pair of bases-loaded walks. The Eagles also scored on Clay Mossbarger's infield hit and Adam Shewmaker's sacrifice fly.
LCA senior left-hander Clay Hall went seven innings and kept the Commodores relatively quiet until Ryan Fucci's bomb in the seventh.
Fucci had struck out seven times in three district games before he gave Tates Creek its brief lead.
LCA answered in the bottom of the seventh. Fucci came on to close it out for the Commodores, but he walked the first batter, Austin Bundy. Fucci then threw wild on a pick-off attempt, and Bundy scampered to third. He came home on a throwing error.
Shewmaker relieved Hall in the eighth and retired Tates Creek in order.
That set the stage for Hoagland, who sent a Fucci fastball soaring high over the left-field fence to win it.
"I just wanted to hit the ball hard on the ground," he said.
Instead, he got his fourth homer of the season and gave LCA its second consecutive district championship.
"I'm so proud of him," Galloway said of Hoagland. "He does such a good job (defensively) that people forget how good a hitter he is."
But LCA fans, or Tates Creek fans for that matter, won't forget Hoagland's walk-off homer for a long time.
Tates Creek 000 101 30—5 4 2
Lexington Christian 101 200 11—6 4 2
Devin Jackson, Brooks Ward (3), Aaron Mitchell (3), Nick Richmond (4), Conner Belcher (5), Thomas Kinder (6), Ryan Fucci (7) and Landon Skaggs, Austin Broome (7). Clay Hall, Adam Shewmaker (8) and Steven Hoagland. 2B—Trevor Gott (TC). HR—Fucci (TC).
Records—LCA 23-10; Tates Creek 23-10