Dan Osterbrock provided a fitting ending to his brilliant season and yet another Appalachian League championship for the Elizabethton Twins.
The 21-year-old left-hander struck out 11 over seven innings Friday night as the Twins captured their second straight title and third in four years with a 7-0 blanking of the Pulaski Mariners at Joe O'Brien Stadium.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine being in this position," said Osterbrock, who was named Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year earlier this month after going 7-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 starts.
"I had never been a part of a winning team or jumped on top of a dogpile. I thought I'd have a decent year, but nothing like this."
After the Twins used five pitchers en route to a 7-4 victory in Thursday's series opener, Osterbrock (1-0) made sure the bullpen got a breather in the clincher. He gave up a season-high nine hits but escaped trouble throughout the night via his favorite weapon: the strikeout.
Osterbrock, who registered a league-leading 104 strikeouts and only eight walks during his first professional campaign, fanned Deybis Benitez with runners on second and third in the sixth. The University of Cincinnati product struck out Dwight Britton and Gabriel Noriega to close out the seventh after yielding a one-out double to Jonathan Arias.
"I've never really been a strikeout pitcher," Osterbrock said. "I'm not sure how it happened this year. A lot of times they just swing and miss. I've been throwing a slider down and in on righties, and that's really been working for me."
Thomas Wright allowed a hit and struck out one in the eighth before Steven Blevins fanned one in a perfect ninth to spark yet another celebration for the Twins.
"It was the greatest feeling I've ever had in sports," Osterbrock said. "We're not allowed to have champagne yet, but we had some non-alcoholic stuff to spray around."
Jonathan Waltenbury staked Osterbrock to a lead in the opening frame with a two-run homer, his first of the series after hitting 10 during the season. He also capped a four-run second with an RBI single as Elizabethton opened a 6-0 cushion.
Dominic De La Osa drove in a pair of runs and Nicholas Romero went 2-for-5 with an RBI for the Twins, who became the league's first repeat champions since Bluefield in 1996-97.
Elizabethton defeated Danville to win last year's crown after falling to the Braves in the 2006 Championship Series. The Twins beat Danville for the title in 2005.
"They made it clear in the very first meeting of the year that they haven't had a losing season here since 1989," Osterbrock said. "Coming in here, we had some big shoes to fill from previous teams. We did a good job sticking together and playing well."
Pulaski's Brooks Mohr, who went 6-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 regular-season starts, lasted 1 1/3 frames and surrendered six runs on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
Arias went 3-for-4 and Mario Martinez and Juan Fuentes had two hits apiece for the Mariners, who went 40-27 this season to end the Braves' four-year run as East Division champions.