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Winter Garden Squeeze

Squeeze sweep doubleheader in Leesburg

The Winter Garden Squeeze took both games of the doubleheader to win the series against the Leesburg Lightning at Pat Thomas Stadium Saturday night. The two wins are the first time the Squeeze have won consecutive games all year.

“It’s big because we have driven the struggle bus for a little while,” said head coach Mike McDaniel. “It gives us a lot of positive energy and momentum going into tomorrow to try and win three in a row.”

Game One

In game one, the Squeeze were able to ride the back of Micah Takac (Mercer), as he threw six innings of one-run ball to lead the Winter Garden Squeeze to a 3-1 victory.

“He’s been fantastic the entire time and has really taken on the role of being a starter and has run with it and lifted us up,” said McDaniel. “Every time he’s out there we know we have a chance to win.”

Out of the 23 hitters Takac faced, he threw 17 first pitch strikes. This allowed Takac to create weak contact from hitters and allowed just one to cross for Leesburg. Takac gave up five hits and struck out four, without walking any to give him his third win of the year.

“Strike one is huge and we talk about that all time,” said McDaniel.”  We want to have two of the first three pitches for a strike and he was like that all night. It gives our fielders some confidence to know the guy is going to be up there throwing it over the plate and have some action.”

“A big thing we preach at my school is to win the three pitch war. That’s winning two out of the three first in the at-bat and doing that gives you a higher rate of getting a guy out, said Takac. “We got more guys out than we didn’t because we did that.”

Mark Chapa (Texas A&M Int.) came in for the save in the seventh. The first two batters Chapa faced reached from a hit-by-pitch and a walk. The sliver of hope Leesburg had from having the winning run at the dish with no outs quickly faded, as Chapa went on to sit the next three hitters down on strikes. Chapa now has two saves, 16 punchouts and no earned runs, in his nine innings of work on the year.

All three of Winter Garden’s runs came in the third frame. Garret Rusch (Bellarmine) hit an infield single to third which brought in Anthony Talpa (Allen County CC). With two away, Titan Kamaka (undecided) brought in two with a double into the right centerfield gap. After both games, Kamaka has a league-leading ten doubles. The next closest to Kamaka’s ten is a tie between seven players, with four two-baggers.

Game Two

Game two gave the viewers an inning of free baseball, as the Squeeze put up six runs in the eighth to win 8-5 in the rubber match.

“They have a lot of positive talk in the dugout,” said McDaniel. “When things are and aren’t on our side, the talk is good because they think they can win it.”

The Squeeze scored two runs in the first inning and went silent for the rest of the other six innings of scheduled play. Kamaka was able to bloop a single into left field that allowed Rusch to score. After a walk to Cole Steinmetz (Valdosta State) loaded the bases, Max McClusky (Embry-Riddle) had a pitch knick his jersey to plate a second run in the inning.

Nolan Maroth (undecided) gave the Squeeze a second great outing on the day, throwing five innings of two-hit ball allowing one run on four strikeouts. In the fifth inning, Maroth was able to strand the tying-run at second getting two consecutive pop ups.

In a 2-1 game in the sixth, the Lightning were able to knot the score at two with a two-out RBI single from Jordy Oriach (New Mexico). The lefty power bat’s lone hit of the night couldn’t have come at a better time for the Lightning.

With a man starting on second in extras, Rusch tried to sacrifice-bunt Kyle Kleweno (Allen County CC) over to third. Instead, Rusch laid down a perfect bunt where he moved the runner over and got a hit. That was just a start for Winter Garden’s big inning. Rusch stole second during Garret Byrd’s (Valdosta State) at-bat right before Byrd sent one into the outfield to plate two for the Squeeze. Three straight free passes allowed another run to score for Winter Garden before they added two more on an error from Leesburg. Zack Stokes (West Florida) brought in the final run for the Squeeze with an RBI-single through the 3-4 hole.

However, the Lightning didn’t go down quietly after the big inning from Winter Garden. Leesburg would plate across three of their own runs and have the tying run at the dish for the final two outs. Kaiden Perez (Saint Leo) was able to record a fly out and a strikeout looking to shut the door on a potential game-tying blast for the Lightning.

Looking Ahead

With the two victories, Winter Garden is back to .500 with a 9-9 record. The Squeeze will host the 10-8 Sanford River Rats at West Orange High School Sunday for Little League Night, before three days off during the NACSB Prospect Games in Lynchburg, Virginia. First pitch set for 5 pm EST.

This article first appeared at FloridaLeague.com. It was written by Squeeze Communications Intern, Riley Kelton (Auburn University).

The Winter Garden Squeeze are a wood bat league for college students. The Squeeze are a community-minded, summer collegiate baseball team in Winter Garden, FL. They are proud members of the Florida Collegiate Summer League. Est. 2014

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