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Radar Guns Blazing As CS Christian Tops Trinity Christian

Richard Moesker threw well for the Warriors Tuesday afternoon.

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Just walking up to the Coral Springs Christian field on Tuesday afternoon, it was easy to get a sense of how big a district match-up this was between the Crusaders and the Trinity Christian Warriors. Over 50 scouts were in attendance to watch a projected pitcher’s duel between the Crusaders’ Touki Toussaint and the Warriors’ Richard Moesker.

The two aces did not disappoint, both lighting up the radar gun for most of the afternoon with fastballs in the low 90’s. In the end, it was Coral Springs Christian that prevailed with a 7-1 win, in what may turn out to be a preview of what is to come later in the season during the district playoffs.

“They got the best of us today,” said Trinity Manager Miguel Cuello. “After seeing what I have seen, it’s going to be a heck of a district playoff. I really don’t know that seedings are going to mean that much. The top four teams are real strong, and the way I see it, the teams that play the best games on that day are going to win. Nothing is a given in this district.”

What is a given, is anytime that Toussaint has been on the mound this season, flocks of Major League scouts have been in attendance. On Tuesday, Toussaint had a fastball ranging from 91 to 95, but more impressive was his command.

“I was happy with the way he located the ball today,” said Crusaders Manager Matt Cleveland. “He did a great job of throwing strikes and allowing his defense to make plays behind him. When pitchers throw strikes and get ahead in the count, good things are usually going to happen.”

MLB scouts were out in full force Tuesday afternoon.

CS Christian scored a run apiece in the first three innings, to open up a 3-0 lead. Eric Hepple was in the middle of two of those rallies, first with a run-scoring, opposite-field single in the opening frame, and then with a two-strike groundout to second that moved catcher Benito Santiago to third with less than two outs in the third. The opposite-field and two-strike approach was part of the Crusaders’ plan.

“Coach is always telling us, the first two strikes are ours,” said Hepple. “The third strike is for the team. So in both cases, early on I was thinking to drive the ball, but then I got two strikes on me, and I had to do what was necessary for the team.”

Cleveland also was pleased with Hepple’s approach.

“He is a guy that has always liked to pull and drive the ball, no matter what the count,” said Cleveland. “So it was good to see him making the adjustments today with the team in mind. That shows that we are making progress as a team.”

Once given the three-run lead, Toussaint settled in, mixing a hard slider with his mid-nineties fastball. The lone run Toussaint gave up on the day was unearned. On the afternoon, Toussaint went six innings, with eight strikeouts, while only giving up five hits.

The Warriors’ Moesker may have matched Toussaint pitch for pitch had it not been for several errors committed by the Trinity infield. Moesker was working with a fastball hovering around 90, and kept the Warriors close into the fifth inning.

Stephan Vidal applies a tag.

CS Christian finally got to Moesker in the fifth. After Toussaint walked and a flyout, Hepple hit what should have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, an error put runners on first and second. Two hits followed off the bats of Cary Boniske and James Buckley. Joe DePalo then came up and put the game out of reach with a bases-clearing double. Suddenly, the Crusaders led 7-1.

“Those runs were huge for us,” said Toussaint. “Early in the year, we were pressing because of all the national rankings and the pressure we had on us. Lately, we’ve relaxed and are starting to play good baseball. Today we had hit after hit in the fifth inning, and that felt good to break out like that.”

The win is a big one for Coral Springs Christian. It moves them into a tie for second place in the district with Highlands Christian. The two teams are both 3-1 in district play. Westminster leads the district at 3-0, and Trinity drops to 0-2 with the loss.

“This was a good win against a really good team,” said Cleveland. “If they don’t make a couple of errors, this could have been a completely different team. I’m sure we will see them again down the road, because they are very talented.”

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