Hampshire 326 for 7 (Donald 106, Prest 78, Brown 73, Parkinson 4-69) beat Kent 325 for 8 (Bell-Drummond 150, Finch 54, Holland 3-45) by three wickets
Defending champions Kent was eliminated by Lancashire’s victory while Hampshire, who were already through, will play Worcestershire on Sunday in a quarter-final at the Ageas Bowl.
Kent chose to bat and Joe Denly was dropped before chopping Ian Holland on in a short stay, with Jack Leaning bowled by returning Hundred man Mason Crane’s first ball of the day.
But the Spitfires took control on a great batting pitch through Bell-Drummond and Finch, both were exceptional at milking the bowling and sapping the energy of fielders and bowlers alike in the heat.
Bell-Drummond rolled through the gears bringing up his third half-century on the competition in 65, with Finch following in 60 deliveries. Finch was bowled by Eddie Jack to end a 134-ball stand, but that only kick-started a blitzkrieg between Bell-Drummond and Blake.
Bell-Drummond reached his seventh List A century in 108 balls and Blake smashed 26 off a Dom Kelly over during a 98-run partnership in a little over 11 overs.
Blake’s dismissal for 46, lbw attempting to reverse Crane, saw five wickets fall for 35 runs as the visitors slowed down – despite reaching their highest List A score versus Hampshire.
Holland had Grant Stewart and Bell-Drummond caught swinging to return 3 for 45, with Hamidullah Qadri and Nathan Gilchrist also departing.
Hampshire needed to chase the 325 down in approximately 32 overs to beat Leicestershire to top spot in Group A.
Fletcha Middleton was caught and bowled by Jaydn Denly but Prest kicked the innings into gear with the adhesive Brown. Prest’s third score over 50 in the competition was full of gorgeous shot-making which included eight fours and a six which thumped into the bumper crowd of about 2,500.
His 78 in 75 was merely the amuse-bouche to Donald’s main course. He tottered along at around a run-a-ball for his first 25 balls before exploding.
He started by almost sending Qadri over his head and back to the mainland before turning to his trusted slog-sweep to take down Parkinson and Denly with five more sixes. The Welshman survived a missed stumping, a catch on the boundary when Gilchrist stepped on the rope and Denly spilling an easy catch at cover.
Brown – after 73 off 77 – and Joe Eckland fell in successive balls to Parkinson before Donald reached a popular century in an astonishing 71 balls.
He was bowled by Qadri to leave 37 still needed in seven overs. Holland and Keith Barker’s dismissals to Parkinson in back-to-back balls saw the game close back up. But Felix Organ’s 30 not out steadied things before Crane won it with a six and a bow.