Pivotal week looms for Winter Garden Squeeze with games against Sanford, Winter Park
Rain limited the Squeeze to just three completed games last week — all against Leesburg — with a trio of players for the Winter Garden ballclub putting up some notable numbers over that time.
| 2:49 p.m. July 3, 2017
With the Florida Collegiate Summer League All-Star Game looming at the end of the week in Sanford, the Winter Garden Squeeze find themselves at an even .500 (9-9) and in a tie for third place in the standings.
A rainy week meant the Winter Garden Squeeze played just three contests from June 25 through July 2, winning two of those games — the Squeeze beat Leesburg 8-6 June 25 and 8-0 June 29.
This week will give the Squeeze an opportunity to make up some ground against the two teams ahead of them in the standings, with games against first-place Sanford (16-7) and second-place Winter Park (11-7) on the schedule.
“This is a pivotal week,” manager Jay Welsh said.
A trio of Squeeze players have had strong showings during the team’s limited action over the past week.
Drew Frederic, a rising senior infielder for Troy University, registered five hits, five runs scored and five RBIs for Winter Garden over its past three games.
“(Frederic has) been playing really well,” Welsh said. “He’s like the consummate ballplayer — he’s the type of kid that kind of sees his opportunity here.”
Welsh added that Frederic, who typically batted toward the bottom of the order for Troy as a junior, has taken a liking to being slotted toward the top of the order for the Squeeze in recent games.
Hitting in front of Sadler Goodwin — a player who is distinguishing himself as a possible MVP candidate for the Florida League this summer — Frederic is seeing no shortage of hittable pitches.
“They’ve got to pitch to him — and he’s been delivering,” Welsh said.
On the hill, Welsh says pitchers Jarred Neal and Lance Johnson have had strong outings in the past week.
Welsh says Neal, the Cy Young winner in the FCSL in 2016, has been finding different ways to get the job done out on the bump.
“Last year, (Neal) had his ‘A’ stuff most of the time,” Welsh explained. “This year, what has impressed me about him, is he’s had his ‘B-,’ ‘C+’ stuff — and he’s still had success. He’s just gritty.”
Johnson, meanwhile, has developed a role as Welsh’s “fireman,” coming on in relief to pitch the team out of jams.
With the midseason additions of Kyle Marsh (pitcher, Embry-Riddle/ formerly UCF) and Logan Browning (outfielder, Florida Southern), Welsh is optimistic about his team’s chances down the stretch.
“It’s a real exciting week and guys are getting back healthy,” Welsh said.