|© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Twins, Mariners lock up Appy titles08/23/2008 12:55 AM ET
By Alan Friedman / Special to MLB.com
The Elizabethton Twins won, while the Pulaski Mariners lost. But both teams clinched their respective Appalachian League division titles on Friday.
The Twins nailed down another West Division crown with a 12-3 romp over the Danville Braves, whose loss wrapped up the East Division pennant for the Mariners.
Elizabethton and Pulaski will meet next month in the best-of-three Championship Series.
"This year we were more offensive-oriented than we have been in the past," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "And we had just enough pitching and defense to win.
"These guys put in a lot of work, a lot of effort. This doesn't just happen."
Among Smith's top producers are Jonathan Waltenbury (.325, 10 homers, 44 RBIs), Evan Bigley (.307, 14, 47) and Angel Morales (.306, 15, 28).
"Our guys learned a lot about situational hitting this season," Smith said. "They came out every day and worked to improve their abilities. Even if we had finished .500 this season, I could still say our guys got better."
Waltenbury, Bigley and Morales were among six members of the Twins (39-23) named Friday to the league's postseason All-Star team. The others were pitchers Dan Osterbrock, Brad Tippett and Mark Hamburger.
Pulaski (37-26), meanwhile, is headed to the playoffs after a one-year absence from the Appalachian League. The Blue Jays left town following the 2006 season and finally were replaced by the Mariners' Rookie League affiliate.
"This has an extra special meaning," Pulaski manager Rob Mummau said. "When we came in here, the fans and the [Mariners] front office treated us very well. We were really well-received."
As an added bonus, Mummau learned Friday that he had been named Manager of the Year.
"We had some pretty young prospects, but our team chemistry was very good," he said. "Our young position players really advanced and the guys who weren't in the lineup were always cheering for the guys who were. So, basically, this was a team effort by all 30 guys."
Mario Martinez, an 18-year-old third baseman who is hitting .323, was joined on the postseason All-Star team by catch Juan Fuentes (.340). Other key contributors have been first baseman Kris Sanchez (.323) and catcher Tommy Johnson (.363).
On the mound, Jose Rios is 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA, Nick Czyz led the staff with six wins, Brooks Mohr was 5-4 with a 3.55 ERA and Fabian Williamson went 4-3 with a 4.10 ERA.
"Some of our kids really got to know how to play ball this season," Mummau said.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.