WINTER GARDEN If you were making a list of opponents for the Winter Garden Squeeze, you might start with the five other franchises in the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
Those are, after all, the actual opponents against whom the Squeeze will compete for an FCSL Championship.
This summer, though, there’s an additional opponent worth taking note of: the weather.
Rain delays, rainouts and rescheduled games are nothing new to franchises in the Florida League — it’s part of the deal when you play baseball here in the summer months. Still, this summer has been particularly rainy and the Squeeze have had particularly bad luck.
As the second half of the Florida League season begins today following the All-Star Game July 8, Winter Garden (10-13) is tied for fewest games played, 23, with Winter Park (15-8) — and that number was only made possible by playing doubleheaders July 5 and July 6, as well as playing a game July 7 when the rest of the league had already begun the All-Star Break.
League-leading Sanford (19-8) has played 27 games, by comparison.
For manager Jay Wells, the rainouts and delays have made it difficult for his players to sustain success.
“What happens is you get into a rhythm — for instance, Cody Burgess was 6-for-10 (during one stretch)— and then you’re off for a week,” Welsh explained.
One item hurting the Squeeze, in particular, has been the lack of a tarp at Heller Bros. Ballpark at West Orange High. It is an unnecessary expense for the West Orange High baseball program, as there are relatively few rainouts during the varsity season in the spring months. But it is becoming something the Squeeze may have to look into as even short rainfalls are — if the downpour is intense enough — capable of flooding the field to the point of being unplayable for the evening.
Winter Garden returns to the diamond after the All-Star Game this week with home games against Winter Park (7 p.m. July 10) and Altamonte Springs (4 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 13).
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].