CARY, N.C.—In the main stadium at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex, Touki Touissant was touching 95 mph to help Coral Springs Christian (Fla.) to a first-round win at the National High School Invitational.
Back on field three at the same time, Clovis (Calif.) lefthander Preston Mott was handcuffing Thunder Ridge (Colo.) with a lot less stuff but just as much competitiveness.
Mott danced around some early inning trouble, then settled down to strike out six as he picked up the complete game win in Clovis’ 7-2 win over ThunderRidge. With the win, Clovis advances to the round of eight where it will face the winner of Wednesday’s Gainesville (Ga.) vs. Venice (Fla.) game. Clovis improved to 15-2 with the win.
Mott (4-1) never topped 80 mph on Wednesday, but he showed his ability to throw his curveball, changeup and fastball for strikes. He generally used his 12-to-6 curveball early in the counts to get ahead before turning to changeups on the outside corner or the occasional fastball inside.
“He’s just a junior. He’s ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in his class. He’s very intelligent,” Clovis coach James Patrick said. “As far as pitching he’s fun to coach and watch. He doesn’t throw hard–he may hit 82 mph at his best. He’s got to throw all three pitches and locate them. He throws strikes.”
ThunderRidge jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning as pitcher Andrew Jones helped himself with an RBI single, but the Grizzlies left bigger opportunities on the basepaths as they scored only that one run despite getting four singles in the inning. One runner was thrown out trying to score and ThunderRidge left the bases loaded.
Mott struggled to start the fourth as well, as Tyler Loptein and Mark Hopper hit back-to-back singles to begin the inning. But Mott settled down to get three straight fly outs to end the inning. That was the last time he got in any significant trouble.
Clovis got all seven of its runs in the fourth. Kellen Araki had a two RBI single, Southern California commit Jacob Gatewood scored one run and drove in another with a single. Jones, a Brigham Young commit, was generally pretty effective himself, as he spotted an 86-88 mph fastball as well as a solid breaking ball, but his defense didn’t do him many favors. ThunderRidge committed four errors and failed to make several tough but makeable plays that were scored hits.
Given a big lead, a big ballpark and a cold day that kept the ball from traveling, Mott didn’t need much help. He cruised through the final three innings, allowing only one hit and one unearned run. McCarthy Tatum helped him out with an excellent backhand play to get the first out in the seventh.