Doolittle's rise began on New Jersey ballfields

A's closer led Shawnee to state title before going to University of Virginia

Sean Doolittle, LHP, Athletics

Hometown: Tabernacle, N.J.

Sean Doolittle was born in Rapid City, S.D. He lived in California between the ages of 3-6 and his family had Oakland A's season tickets. But the A's closer got his start as a ballplayer in New Jersey before going on to attend the University of Virginia.

He played Babe Ruth baseball in Tabernacle Township -- where he resides today -- and then led Shawnee High School in Medford to a New Jersey state championship as a star pitcher and hitter.

At Shawnee, the accolades started to pile up for Doolittle. In 2004, he was named New Jersey Player of the Year by Gatorade, Baseball America, The Star Ledger and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

His most legendary performance came in the New Jersey Group 4 high school state final in 2003, when he struck out 23 batters in a nine-inning victory over Kearny.

Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.