ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh inning, the Winter Garden Squeeze loaded the bases with one out.
Facing off against the Altamonte Springs Boom, it looked as though the Squeeze — a team that has been offensively challenged this summer — might be poised to break through and reward starting pitcher Ian Doughty (New Mexico J.C.). Doughty had tossed 5.2 innings for Winter Garden, allowing just the one earned run.
Two strikeouts later, though, the Squeeze still were scoreless and heading back onto the field, deflated. Three insurance runs for the Boom (9-3) helped seal the deal as Winter Garden (1-11) suffered an 11th consecutive loss.
Since defeating Altamonte in the 2015 opener, the Squeeze has been unable to taste victory again. Although several of the losses early in the losing streak were by three runs or more, lately Winter Garden has been close — with back-to-back one-run losses this past week to its credit — showing signs of progress even as frustration builds.
The last-place Squeeze will get a chance to get back on track against the team nearest to them in the standings this weekend — Winter Garden will play a three-game set against DeLand (5-7) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
As has been the norm this season, Friday’s game will be a home contest for the Squeeze at Heller Bros. Ballpark and will begin at 7 p.m.
In a tough season so far, scheduling has perhaps been the brightest spot for the second-year franchise in the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
“We have no back-to-backs, we have eight Friday nights — I just thought, ‘We’re going to pack the park,’” Winter Garden General Manager Adam Bates said, recalling the first time he glanced at the schedule. “As a marketer, that’s the first thing I saw and said, ‘Let’s get these families out here.’”
Attendance hasn’t been an issue despite the losses. Before the game was canceled because of weather, the Squeeze appeared poised to pack the park on June 19 — the Friday before Father’s Day — when the club had arranged for several promotions to coincide with the holiday.
Winter Garden will take on Leesburg (6-5) on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Tuesday’s game will be a home game, with first pitch set for 7 p.m.