The Danville Braves and Elizabethton Twins have made room for some new blood -- namely the Pulaski Mariners and the Johnson City Cardinals -- atop the Rookie-level Appalachian League.
Although defending champion Danville and Elizabethton have mixed it up in four of the past five Appy League Championship Series, this year's division titles were scored Sunday by Pulaski in the East and Johnson City in the West.
The Mariners topped the Greeneville Astros, 5-4, on Sunday, but had already won the crown when the Braves fell to the Burlington Royals, 4-3, earlier in the afternoon.
Pulaski did not field a team in the league in 2007, but returned with a flourish as a Mariners affiliate in '08 -- becoming the only team to break the virtual Braves-Twins five-year stranglehold by making it to the Finals. Elizabethton went on to sweep the best-of-3 series.
The Cardinals fell to the Bluefield Orioles, 5-2, in 11 innings Sunday, but the Twins were three-hit by the Princeton Rays in a 6-0 shutout. Johnson City stands three games ahead of Elizabethton and 12 in front of third-place Greeneville.
This doesn't leave the E-Twins and the D-Braves out of the mix, though, since the playoff rules the league instituted this year add a round to the postseason in which the division champion plays the second-place finisher in the other division.
Elizabethton has already sewn up its playoff spot, while Danville is tied with Burlington, 4 1/2 games behind Pulaski.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.