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Perfect Titans slay Dragons

The game was a matchup of the only undefeated teams in Hillsborough County. But controversy marred Tampa Bay Tech's 7-3 win over Jefferson High.

The controversy occurred in the fifth inning on an overruled balk call. Dragons' pitcher Donald Caldwell threw to an unoccupied base with a runner in motion. The call was not initially made until Benton appealed the call after the teams had left the playing field.

Contact was then made between assistant coach Marcus Garcia and the field umpire, resulting in Garcia's ejection. Pitching coach Tony Castillo confronted the home-plate umpire in an aggressive manner. Both coaches were asked to leave the area before the game would resume.

The dispute delayed a fine pitching performance by Tech's Joey Ricciardi (3-0), but Ricciardi did not lose focus, retiring the last 15 batters. He was one batter away from being pulled in the second, but survived a wild spell and completed the game.

"Joey really dug in tonight and lived up to the billing," Tech coach Larry Benton said. "He is one of the best pitchers in the county,"

Tech was aided by seven Jefferson errors, though some were created by Tech's aggression on the basepaths. Seven Titan stolen bases forced Dragon pitchers to pay attention to the runners. The result was errors coming in haste to combat the speed.

"You can't make seven errors and make baserunning mistakes and expect to win," Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta said.

"Speed is one of our strengths," Benton said. "If we do the fundamentals of the game and put the ball in play, you can make things happen in high school."