CARY, N.C.—One of the premier prospects at the National High School Invitational more than lived up to the hype, as Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian righthander Touki Toussaint pitched—and hit—his team to a 1-0 win against California's Orange Lutheran High in the opening round of the tournament.
With a large audience of scouts packing the seats behind home plate, Toussaint was nearly untouchable from the outset. His fastball sat in the low 90s, and when the Lancers' heat tried gearing up for the heat, Toussaint locked them up with a biting breaking ball in the mid-70s. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out 12.
"The breaking ball is his out pitch," Coral Springs coach Matt Cleveland said. "He was spotting it well. Sometimes it's so good, I feel like maybe (the umpire) missed a couple. He threw a couple really good ones that weren't called (strikes). I thought that was his best pitch today and he did a good job of keeping them off balance."
Toussaint did make life difficult on himself at times. To go along with his dozen strikeouts, he handed out four walks and hit two batters. He had to pitch himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, thanks to two walks and a hit-by-pitch, escaping by buckling the Lancers' Joey Sanchez, a Long Beach State recruit, with one of those devastating breaking balls.
Toussaint settled back in quickly after the rocky third. The Sanchez strikeout was the first of six straight outs he recorded via the K, and from the second inning through the fifth, just three balls were put in play against him. Toussaint did all this despite being decidedly out of his comfort zone, as the temperature in Cary on Wednesday stayed in the mid-40s. Not exactly normal game conditions for a team from Florida, with Toussaint saying afterwards he couldn't feel his fingers until the third inning.
"I just told myself to stay within myself and not get ahead," Toussaint said. "Don't try to throw the next pitch before you throw this pitch."
The Crusaders needed Toussaint to be as good as he was, as their own offense got very little going against Orange Lutheran's Garett King. Toussaint drove in the game's lone run in the first inning with an RBI double that glanced off the glove of shortstop Josh Morgan and into left field, plating Pemron Burrows, who'd led off the game getting hit by a pitch and subsequently stole second. King, a Nebraska recruit, stifled Coral Springs the rest of the way. He didn't light up the radar guns like his counterpart Toussaint, but he efficiently mixed four pitches and retired 17 of the last 18 hitters he faced.
Toussaint wound up throwing 116 pitches before being pulled after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh. After the game, Cleveland expressed regret for letting Toussaint go back to the mound with such a high pitch count and was adamant that Toussaint wouldn't throw that many pitches for him in a game again. Jeremiah Muhammad came in to close things out, eventually stranding the tying run on second base to end the game.