Cardinals End Vero's Season 4-2; Suns win 2-0

VERO BEACH and JACKSONVILLE, Florida-- Despite five no-hit innings from Chuck Tiffany and Matt Kemp's second home run of the post-season, Palm Beach handed Vero Beach a 4-2 loss in the final game of the best-of-three East Division playoffs. Meanwhile up the coast, Jacksonville used air-tight, no-hit pitching from Chad Billingsley and Jon Broxton to no-hit Birmingham to take a 1-0 lead in the Southern League playoffs.

Vero Beach was first on the board. With two outs in the first inning, Kemp blasted a ball to the opposite field for his second home run against the Cardinals. Anthony Raglani and Cory Dunlap followed with singles, but both baserunners were stranded. In fact, the Dodgers left two on base in the second and again the fourth innings.

Meanwhile, Tiffany was diamond-sharp. He completed five innings without allowing a hit. He did walk five, but struck out seven and held 1-0 lead when he left the game. Tiffany went 4-0 against the Cardinals during the regular season.

However the Cardinals bats came alive against the Vero bullpen. Casey Hoorelbeke, who went 9-3 in the regular season, allowed a walk to open the sixth inning. A stolen base, a ground ball and the Cardinals' first hit of the game tied the score. A two-out double quickly untied it.

Jarod Plummer struck out the final batter of sixth, but in the seventh he surrendered a leadoff single. A bunt went for a hit and a groundout advanced both baserunners. After an intentional walk, a sacrifice fly to left gave the Cardinals a 2-run lead.

The Dodgers cut the deficit in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Jamie Hoffman lined a double into the right field corner. Blake DeWitt, who's walkoff homer won Game Two, stroked a double of his own into the left field corner to score Hoffman and pull the Dodgers within 3-2.

However, the Cardinals answered in the eighth. A single, a two-out bunt. and another single off closer Mark Alexander made it 4-2.

The Dodgers went down in order in the 8th, but Xavier Paul led off the ninth with a single. Edwin Bellorin hit into a double play, and a Cole Bruce ground out ended the game.

The Cardinals will host games one and two of the best-of-five Florida State League Championship Series against the Lakeland Tigers.

JACKSONVILLE, Florida-- Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton combined to no-hit the Birmingham Barons in the Suns' 2-0 victory in Game 1 of the South Division Finals played in front of 1,758 fans Thursday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Billingsley allowed four baserunners -- three on walks and one on Tony Abreu's second inning error -- over seven innings. He earned the victory, while striking out seven and allowed one deeply-hit ball with the wind gusting straight in: a line drive to center field which Todd Donovan snagged on the run for the first out in the seventh. Broxton's final victim flew out to center to encapsulate the no-hitter. Broxton delivered two perfect innings for the save and finished the Suns' first nine-inning no-hitter since Kent Bottenfield made the mark on June 17, 1990. The Suns scrounged two runs in the third when four consecutive Suns reached base. Sergio Garcia singled home Joel Guzman with a dribbler past the second baseman and Jon Weber's sacrifice fly to left field scored Justin Ruggiano, landing the Suns their only runs. Right-hander Eric Hull (7-7, 3.38 ERA) is scheduled to face the Barons in Game 2 of the South Division Finals tonight. Sun Spots: The no-hitter was the Suns' first combined no-hitter and may be the first ever in the Southern League playoffs. There are no recorded playoff no-hitters in the Southern League media guide. …The Suns' last no-hitter was a seven-inning gem by Kevin Mobley, August 3, 2000. …Billingsley said his 115 pitches thrown were the most in his professional career. …It was the first-ever postseason game for the Suns at the Baseball Grounds. …The playoff win over the Barons was the Suns' first vs. Birmingham since 1983 (now 2-6, all-time). …Blakely, the league's RBI leader, Chris Young, the league's home run leader, Ryan Sweeney and Andy Gonzalez a combined 0-for-48 this season against Billingsley, who has allowed three runs in his last 45.2 innings. …Billingsley has allowed one hit in his last 14 innings vs. Birmingham and seven hits over 27.2 innings in his last four starts. --Joe Block

CASPER, Wyoming-- The Ogden Raptors lost the final game of the regular season in Casper to the Rockies by a score of 3-1. Ogden concluded the regular season with a four-game losing streak and seven of eight. Casper scored one run in the first inning and then held on until the 6th inning when Adam Godwin reached on an error and scored from first base on a Juan Rivera double to tie the score at 1-1. Ogden snapped its scoreless streak at 22 innings with the run.. Alvin Hayes, who was making his second start of the season, pitched well enough to win. He only up only one run on three hits in five innings of work. But in the eighth, the Rockies got three consecutive one-out hits and scored twice against Raptors' reliever Kristopher Krise (0-4) to put Casper on top for good. The Raptors finished with only three hits and struck out 16 times. Ogden, winners of the first half in the south division, finished the second half in third place behind Orem and Casper. Raptors' ace, left-hander Brent Leach (5-3) drew the opening game start. Beginning the season in the bullpen, the Brandon, Mississippi, native has turned into Ogden's most consistent starter. He has a league-leading 2.43 earned run average, and he leads the team with 77 strikeouts. John Meloan (0-2) will start the second game in Ogden and Cory Wade (2-3) will work the third if necessary. The winner of best-of-3 series advances to Pioneer League championship.

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