EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 26, 2013

Lancer skipper ponders pitching dilemma

Touching all the Bases
Hector Longo

---- — Joan Vargas couldn’t have been better in the rain Friday night. Precise and efficient, the Lawrence High left-hander powered through the Tewksbury lineup for four innings.

And then the skies opened, forcing postponement of the 32nd Lawrence Invitational Baseball final and putting serious pressure on Lancer skipper Brendan Neilon.

If things clear today and the teams meet again tonight, as scheduled, 7 p.m. at Devlin Field, should Neilon come right back with the junior Vargas, the reigning Merrimack Valley Conference small school Player of the Year,

“We’re not sure yet,” said Neilon last night. “We might start Wilmer Gomez and try to ride him as long as we can. We have to see how Joan feels.”

Now, the weather might not change, and the field may not dry. That would force a tourney final move to Monday.

Interestingly, the extra rest might be just the thing the Lancers don’t need. Remember, the state tourney pairings come out Tuesday, and Lawrence could see action in the Division 1 North sectional (complete with nine-inning games) as early as Thursday.

Wouldn’t Lawrence want a fresh Vargas?

So there is intrigue surrounding Devlin Field, with plenty to watch over the next couple days.

TOURNEY SCRAMBLING

The weekend rain has tournament and game schedulers scrambling.

At Georgetown, coach Justin Spurr is trying to host the Spofford Memorial Tournament.

Hopefully, the action will get under way today with Triton vs. Ipswich at noon in the first semifinal, followed by Newburyport and the host team at 3 p.m.

Now, and this is important to note here. Newburyport must travel to Salem State Monday morning to finish at game with Beverly. Therefore, the Clippers, win or lose today, must play the 1 p.m. game on Monday.

Georgetown, win or lose today, will play at 10 a.m., on Monday.

Down in Lynn, the Nipper Clancy Tournament remains on hold at Fraser Field.

Today, it’s slated to have Lynn English facing North Reading at 4 p.m., followed by Classical and St. Mary’s at 7 p.m.

Monday’s consolation and title games are tentatively scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m.

SUPERB CLOSING KICK

Somehow, the Timberlane Owls found a way to work in their season finale with Trinity yesterday.

The 6-0 win behind big Jake Damphousse continues the Owls momentum as the Division 1 playoffs approach.

“We were a strike from starting the year at 1-7,” said Jamie Fish, the Owls coach. “So, it feels good to close the year like this with a 10-8 record.”

The Owls were at Winnacunnet with a 1-6 mark and trailed 5-2 in the seventh with Jameson Collins at the plate with a 3-2 count, two outs.

Collins laced a three-run double, and the Owls rallied to win, kick-starting a closing run of nine wins in 11 games.

Fish knew, even with the slumbering start, what this team was capable of.

“We had a lot of guys back from a good team, a lot of guys who thought they just had to show up to win,” said Fish. “There’s still a lot of good teams out there. But I’d rather be going in like we are, as opposed to how we started.”

Speaking of the N.H. baseball state tourney. Give it up for the NHIAA and the baseball committee for changing the format of the past couple years, which spread the tourney over three weeks. In a nutshell, before the change back this year, a team could ride its ace in three of the four games.

Now, with the title game on June 8, it will take two games from at least two pitchers.

KNIGHTS NEED A BREAK

The big game on today’s slate is not a tourney game. It’s a non-leaguer with Pentucket hosting North Andover at 1 p.m. Pentucket is a notoriously slow drying field.

Word is that the game might be moved to the Pines Field in Groveland, which drains better than the Sachems’ regular field.

There is still the opportunity to play it Monday, but if it were me, I’d be on the phone with Tom O’Brien in Haverhill and check out the availability of his FieldTurf stadium.