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Crim completes D-Braves' sweep09/03/2009 10:34 PM ET
By John Torenli / Special to MLB.com
Matt Crim was simply following Brett Oberholtzer's lead.
One night after watching Oberholtzer toss a five-hitter in the opener of the best-of-3 Appalachian League Finals, Crim spun a four-hit shutout Thursday as the Danville Braves captured their second championship in four years with a 5-0 blanking of the Elizabethton Twins at Dan Daniel Memorial Park.
"It was phenomenal back-to-back performances," said Danville manager Paul Runge. "Those guys were two of the best pitchers in the league all year long. They completely dominated the games. They were in complete control and really dissected the Elizabethton hitters."
Crim, the Appalachian League's Pitcher of the Year with a 10-2 record and a 3.18 ERA, entered the postseason with some question marks after dropping his only two decisions of the campaign in his final two outings.
But after Oberholtzer pitched a complete-game gem in Wednesday's series-opening 7-1 win at Elizabethton, Crim (1-0) proved he was up to the challenge of leading the Braves to their first title since they knocked off the Twins in 2006.
"[Oberholtzer's performance] probably had a lot to do with it," Crim admitted. "We are the same type of pitcher. He gave me some pointers on what he did [Wednesday]. On the way home from Elizabethton last night, he told me all about their hitters and how to pitch to them and locate my pitches."
Facing the league's highest-scoring offense, the 22-year-old left-hander worked around a two-out double in the first inning and a two-out single in the third before mowing down 11 straight batters.
Brian Dozier reached Crim for a one-out single in the sixth, but Atlanta's 21st-round pick in this year's Draft remained unfazed. He got Chris Hermann and Josmil Pinto to fly out before pitching a perfect seventh and overcoming a hit batsman and a walk in the eighth.
"In the eighth inning my arm was tired," said Crim, who failed to go the distance in any of his 13 appearances this season. "But I got myself pumped up and went back out there for the ninth.
"It wasn't difficult because we had a five-run lead, but my arm was really tired. When I went out there, it all went away."
The 1,241 fans in attendance were pumped as well, especially after Crim shook off a one-out double by Tobias Streich by getting Michael Gonzalez on a flyout to center and fanning Anderson Hidalgo with his final pitch of the season.
Crim was tackled on the mound as his teammates celebrated the dethroning of the Twins, who had captured back-to-back Appy crowns and five this decade under legendary manager Ray Smith.
"I was on the bottom, but I'm all right," Crim said. "You don't feel anything when it's happening, but when they all get off you, it's a little painful."
The Braves also benefited from some poor fielding by Elizabethton, reaching Twins starter Edgar Ibarra (0-1) for four runs -- only one earned -- on seven hits in six innings.
Danville staked Crim to a 3-0 lead in the third as Jordan Kreke and L.V. Ware began the big inning with back-to-back singles.
Mycal Jones sacrificed and Cory Harrilchak drew a two-out walk before Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg's grounder eluded Elizabethton second baseman Reggie Williams, giving the D-Braves a 2-0 lead. Osman Marval followed with an RBI single and added another run-scoring hit in the fifth to make it 4-0.
"Marval got two big two-out, two-strike hits to give us a little bit of breathing room," Runge said.
Harrilchak doubled with one out in the eighth and came around when Gonzalez mishandled Spanjer-Furstenburg's roller to first base to cap the scoring.
The Twins, who scored 433 runs on 674 hits during the regular season, were limited to a run on nine hits over 18 innings by Danville's starting duo.
"It was an awesome feeling to shut them down two nights in a row," Crim noted. "They're a good-swinging team, but before the series everybody said it was our pitching against their hitting."
"Those two [Oberholtzer and Crim] were amazing," added Ware, who was a member of last year's Danville squad, which failed to qualify for the playoffs.
"Last year we struggled. To come back this year and to win it all, especially at home, is amazing."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.