A few years from now, Coral Springs Christian pitcher Touki Toussaint might get the traditional shaving cream “pie in the face” after pitching in a Major League Baseball game.
On Friday afternoon, Toussaint got doused with cold water from a couple of water bottles as his teammates chased him around the diamond.
Either way, it was a much better feeling for Toussaint and the Crusaders than it was a year ago in the regional finals.
Behind several clutch hits including a key early home run by shortstop James Buckley, and a solid performance from Toussaint, Coral Springs Christian clinched its first trip to the baseball state final four with an 8-4 win over host Miami Westminster Christian in the Region 4-3A final.
A year after losing a heartbreaker to Florida Christian in the regional final 13-12 when a 10-run lead slipped away, Coral Springs Christian (23-7) will take on Tallahassee North Florida Christian in a Class 3A state semifinal Wednesday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
“I’m just speechless because last year a lot of things happened that shouldn’t have,” said Toussaint, who is projected to be a first-round draft choice in next month’s MLB draft.
“It’s all coming together for us now.”
Toussaint struck out seven, but was hit hard early by Westminster Christian (23-5-1), which came up short of its first trip to state since 2011.
Catcher Dakota Robbins blasted a two-run home run to right to put the Warriors in front 2-1 in the bottom of the first.
But the lead would be short-lived thanks to the Crusaders’ own power display.
Buckley crushed a two-run home run off Westminster starter John Gonzalez as part of a three-run second inning that put the Crusaders ahead for good.
“We’ve had great at-bats all season and today we just worked all our counts really well,” Buckley said.
Westminster Christian got another opportunity to do some damage to Toussaint in the third loading the bases with two outs. But Toussaint, known for his consistent 90-plus-mph pitch speed, delivered a breaking ball on the outside corner to strike out Adrian Mayans and end the threat.
“We ran into a phenomenal ball club and a great pitcher,” Westminster Christian coach Emil Castellanos said. “We felt we did great against him. But our defense hurt us and it was a trickle effect. You can’t make those mistakes against a great ball club.”
Warriors second baseman Yuri Sucart had the most success against Toussaint, hitting a double and later scoring in the fourth on a wild pitch to cut Coral Springs Christian’s lead to 4-3. Sucart later hit a solo home run as well.
But a costly error by Westminster Christian third baseman Julian Infante in the top of the fifth, likely the result of an injury to his throwing hand he sustained when he was hit by a pitch in the third, allowed the Crusaders to score a couple of runs and begin to pull away.
Infante was hit square on the hand in the third, causing it to swell, and he had to be removed from the game a couple of innings later. With two outs in the fifth, Infante fielded a ground ball, but overthrew first base, allowing Coral Springs Christian to extend its lead to 5-3. A run-scoring double by Buckley made it 6-3 on the ensuing at-bat.
“It’s a lot of belief that’s taken for us to get back to this point,” Coral Springs Christian coach Matt Cleveland said. “We fought through a lot of injuries and a tough schedule. It’s all a credit to my guys.”
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Flag footballAtlantic 25, Archbishop McCarthy 12:
But it wasn’t without pressure.
As the Eagles were about to make their way onto the Florida Turnpike on Friday morning, they had to turn around to let star quarterback Carissa Long off the bus. Long missed the trip to Tallahassee because of an exam crucial for graduation.
But they didn’t falter.
Led by ninth grader Alaija Dennis, the last-second replacement at quarterback, the Eagles pushed on to defeat Archbishop McCarthy.
Atlantic will face Seminole Ridge in the state semifinals at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Dennis threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns, adding another score on the ground.
Although the Mavericks struggled at times on offense, their defense was electric. G.G. Middleton had two interceptions, one of which she returned for a 78-yard touchdown. Jennifer Lopez also had an interception.
Quarterback Melissa Jara also threw a touchdown for Archbishop McCarthy.
Adam Ross’ deft hand at incorporating three stars into Sagemont’s Class 3A state championship boys’ basketball team and ultimately leading the Lions to an upset of then-No. 1 Jacksonville Providence in the state semifinals brought the FABC Class 3A Coach of the Year award.
“It’s an honor, there are some other great coaches throughout the state and in the 3A classification,” Ross said. “It’s a testament to not just my ability as a coach but my coaching staff and the players and all the hard work they put in.
“You don’t usually won it unless you have an outstanding team.”
The Lions (33-0) erased any questions whether there would be enough shots to go around for highly touted transfers Prince Ali, a 6-4 Connecticut commit, UCLA 6-11 signee G.G. Goloman and point guard Lance Crawford along with holdovers Joe Kirby and Jordan Cooper. Sagemont rolled through the regular season before earning the distinction of being the first Broward team to finish unbeaten.
American Heritage’s Charles Stephenson was named FABC 5A Coach of the Year after helping the Patriots capture a state title.
Ali was named the FABC 3A Player of the year while Heritage 6-10 center Drake LaMont, a force inside for the Patriots, took 5A honors.
Winning the 3A award was vindication for Ali, who finished behind Jacksonville Providence’s Grayson Allen for the Florida Dairy Farmer’s 3A award, despite outscoring Allen, a highly touted Duke recruit, 22-9 in the state semifinals.