By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 27, 2002
TAMPA -- One team emerged as a division leader, a pitcher tossed a gem and the wild-card race started to shake out Tuesday.
Plant improved to 3-0 in the Yellow Division by beating an outmanned Blake squad 20-1 in five innings.
Bloomingdale pitcher Chris Kemper threw a no-hitter, leading the Bulls to a 4-0 victory against Riverview.
And in the nightcap, Jefferson defeated Hillsborough 6-1 in a key matchup that had wild-card implications.
Kemper, a senior right-hander, struck out six and kept Riverview batters off-balance. Still, the two teams battled through four scoreless innings before the Bulls struck for four runs over the final three innings.
The no-hitter was the 11th in tournament history, the most recent coming last year.
Plant scored three runs in each of the first two innings and then broke the game open with an eight-run third.
Wes Tolbert picked up the win, throwing three scoreless innings for the Panthers, backed up by 19 hits, including Corey Brown home runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Plant played without senior first baseman Kyle Williams, kicked off the team Tuesday for disciplinary reasons stemming from an incident during the Panthers' 11-4 victory against Hillsborough on Monday.
The Dragons and Terriers played the most meaningful game Tuesday. The winning team would emerge as the top wild-card contender from the Yellow Division.
Jefferson opened up its offense early, going ahead 4-0 in the first inning. The Dragons (10-5) got an RBI single from Nate Dyer and a two-run double to deep centerfield from Chris Dixon to help jump out to the quick lead.
It would turn out to be all the offense they needed.
Jefferson pitcher Javier Faello returned to the mound after nearly a month off with hip, shoulder and back injuries to throw a complete game, allowing just four hits and striking out nine. With the win, the Dragons improved to 2-1 in the division while Hillsborough fell to 1-2.