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Toussaint helps Rome even Sally series

Atlanta's No. 10 prospect goes eight innings for first time since June
September 13, 2016

The Rome Braves had played 143 games in 2016 entering Tuesday night. Down one in the best-of-5 South Atlantic League Championship Series, they weren't about to start panicking ahead of Game 2.

Atlanta's No. 10 prospect Touki Toussaint matched a career high by dealing eight innings for the second time this season, allowing a run on four hits as Rome evened the Finals with a 6-1 win over Lakewood at State Mutual Stadium.

"[Our attitude's] been the same the whole time," Toussaint said. "I feel like our team is a whole bunch of good kids. It doesn't matter what the situation is. We're just going to have fun, and whatever happens is what it is. We have teenagers that are just playing the game of baseball. They're playing the game they love. The energy's the same as Game 1. We're behind? OK, just turn the page. That's our thing. Turn the page."

Making his first start since Sept. 5, the 20-year-old right-hander took the lead in doing just that, facing just one more than the minimum through his first five innings.

"I had to get ahead," said Toussaint, who last pitched eight innings in a June 13 win over Columbia. "They have a whole bunch of good hitters, 1-9 can hit. You have to get ahead and mix it up, in and out, throw the offspeeds when you have to. They can put the ball in play. This is the type of team you can't walk. You can't nibble. You have to go and make them beat you."

The 2014 first-round pick pitched out of trouble with runners at second and third and two out in the sixth. The only run Toussaint allowed came on Damek Tomscha's solo homer to left field in the seventh.

"Dan Meyer, our pitching coach, was like, 'Keep going. Keep going. Stay at it,'" he said. "That's all I kept thinking -- keep going. Nothing else matters but attacking the strike zone. Everything else will take care of itself. I made some good pitches and they got themselves out."

The Braves gave Toussaint an early cushion when Carlos Castro plated a run with a groundout to second base in the second. Rome added two more on a homer to left-center by Atlanta's No. 13 prospect Austin Riley in the third.

Toussaint struck out six without issuing a walk, threw 65 of his 90 pitches for strikes and gave way to Chase Johnson-Mullins after eight. The lefty reliever retired the BlueClaws in order to seal the win.

"[Playoff baseball] gives you that extra edge that you look for during the season," Toussaint said. "We're playing for something. It gives you that extra edge and it's something that you work for. You don't get this opportunity all the time."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.