Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Creeks Baseball Team Ranks among Nation's Best

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Creeks Baseball Team Ranks among Nation's Best

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Boleky

Six years ago, Rusty Melcolm put together a group of 8-year-olds for a traveling baseball team to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union.

He learned that to be successful, he needed players that possess talent, an extreme love for the sport and committed parents.

But even Melcolm probably didn't expect what his Creeks Baseball Club team has accomplished the past two springs. Creeks, now a 14-and-under squad, wrapped up its second straight AAU State Championship on May 25 in Winter Haven. The Red Wolves are now qualified for the AAU National Championships July 19-27 in Sarasota.

"There was lots of pressure. It felt like every team we played was our rival," said LF Dustin Danner, 14, who just finished his freshman year at Mandarin High. "We were confident because of last year. We felt very strong, and we went 6-0 [in the tournament.]"

The final was not without its drama. Creeks went up early on Tampa, who came back to tie it. Evan Diciccio, who was feeling the effects of a pulled hamstring from earlier in the day, scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh on a single by Reed Melcolm, and Creeks held on, 7-6.

Diciccio playing through his injury is common with the Red Wolves, who have only 10 players on their squad. And since most of AAU play happens in weekend tournaments, the four games they played that Sunday of the championship is also not unusual.

Combine that with their school season, and some have played close to 75 games this year.

As you can see, the kids have to really love baseball.

"It's a real commitment from the parents and the kids," said Melcolm, a former player at Wolfson and Georgia Southern. "Financially, and practicing as much as we do ... a lot of them pass up their family vacations to do this."

Melcolm, who is Reed's father, said half of the current team was a part of the group he started with as 8-year-olds, which was a part of the Mandarin Sports Association until coming to Creeks last year. …

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