Call it an imperfect storm.
A combination of the three-day break that coincides with the annual Florida Collegiate Summer League All-Star Game and poor weather has led to a stretch where the Winter Garden Squeeze — previously having played a game almost every day this summer — haven’t play a whole lot as of late.
The Squeeze (16-14) have played just four complete games over the past 10 days, with two of them coming by way of a doubleheader this past Friday. Since Winter Garden’s July 4 loss to Sanford the team has had a total of five games cancelled or suspended, in addition to the scheduled days off for the All-Star break.
While the rainouts and delays have been a bit frustrating for coach Ruben Felix’s ballclub, they may provide a silver lining of sorts.
With the playoffs just a week and a half away, Sunday’s game at College Park — a 9-5 win — began a stretch of seven games in seven days for Winter Garden, meaning the mid-summer downtime may serve the Squeeze well down the stretch.
“When you play that much your legs need to get a rest,” shortstop Damon Haecker (Auburn) said. “I’m not going to say it’s a good thing, but it’s also a needed thing.”
Winter Garden went .500 in its four games coming out of the break, with Tuesday’s game against Leesburg cancelled — again due to weather.
With time winding down in the regular season, the Squeeze find themselves right in the thick of things at third place in the standings. Winter Garden is just 2.5 games behind league-leading Sanford (17-10), meaning a No. 1 seed for the postseason isn’t out of reach just yet.
Of course, the Squeeze are just a game up on Leesburg (14-14) in fourth place and three games up on DeLand (12-16) in fifth, meaning the club will have to remain on its game if it hopes to avoid July 29’s “Play-In” game for the postseason.
All-in-all, Felix has been frank with his club about importance of winning games down the stretch in July.
“Like I told the guys today, we need to have a good run,” Felix said following Sunday’s win over the Freedom. “Our goal is to probably win six or seven games in this week.
“Hopefully we can get a good momentum going into the last week of the season before the playoffs.”
Thanks to the Florida’s predictably unpredictable summer weather, even the Florida League’s All-Star Game had to be pushed back a day.
The 11th edition of the contest took place on Wednesday, instead of Tuesday, at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium. Winter Garden was well represented in its inaugural season with eight players on the roster for the South team, consisting of players from the Squeeze, Winter Park and College Park.
The South defeated the North team (Sanford, Leesburg and DeLand), 11-8.
Second baseman Zak Felix (New Mexico Junior College) led the hitters representing the Squeeze, driving in two RBIS on the night.
Who’s “Crush-ing” it?
The selections for this week’s hitter and pitcher of the week each came through in Sunday’s big win over College Park.
Taylor Beccera (Grayson County College) had three hits and three RBIs for Winter Garden on Sunday, upping his batting average to .297 for the season.
Austin Glorious (Indian River State College) got the start and the win Sunday, tossing six innings while allowing just one earned run. Glorious improved his record to 3-1 on the season.
What’s ahead — Next three home games
vs. DeLand; 7 p.m., Thursday
vs. DeLand; 7 p.m., Friday
vs. Winter Park; 7 p.m., July 24