- Front Porch
WALLINGFORD — They were regular-season champs at 17-3. They won the first game of the postseason championship series 5-0.
The boys from Star Auto have been in the driver’s seat of the Wallingford Twilight Baseball League all season — actually, for two seasons, now — and they were not going to relinquish an inch of the wheel.
On Tuesday night, Star Auto slammed the door on Executive Kia 10-0 and locked up their second straight Wallingford postseason crown to go along with four straight regular-season banners.
John Skinner, the one-time Red Sox farmhand, fired a complete-game four-hitter and one-time Sheehan stars Tim Bickford and Jim Cox combined to go 7-for-9 with four doubles to fuel the offense.
It added up to a 15-0 championship sweep at Pat Wall Field. Nuff said.
“Anytime you win a championship it’s a great feeling, especially in this league,” said Star Auto player-manager Kevin Weir. “We take a lot of pride in it.”
Two nights after one-time Milwaukee Brewers prospect Liam Ohlmann crafted a three-hit shutout for Star Auto, it was Skinner’s turn to silence Executive Kia. He struck out eight while allowing just one walk.
There was little doubt he would go the route.
“When I hand the ball to John Skinner, I usually don’t get it back. He’s going to go out there, give it his all and go the distance,” said Weir. “One good thing about John, after the third, fourth inning his arm starts to loosen up and he can just keep going and going.”
On this night, Skinner went and went in relative comfort. Star Auto jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Mike Thomas doubled and scored on Juan Batista’s single.
Two Kia errors in the second opened the door to three more runs. Bickford had the key hit: a two-run double.
In the third, Star Auto made it 6-0. Cox singled to lead off. Jemal Bethea drove him home with a double and scored in turn on an infield hit by Ohlmann.
A pair of runs in the sixth and the seventh completed the scoring.
Cox finished 4-for-4. Bickford was 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
Afterward, Cox credited Bickford for helping him get in gear.
“My first at-bat, I got lucky,” said Cox. “I caught one off the end of the bat and it went through the left side. Then I caught some barrels. Tim Bickford helped me with my swing the last half of the year.”
Talent and teamwork: Whether as the Downtown Merchants, as they were previously known, or as Star Auto, this team has kept it at full throttle.
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