LAWRENCE — With only three appearances as a junior, Lawrence High’s Samuel Quiroz entered the year as an unknown commodity. Folks in the Merrimack Valley Conference know who the diminutive senior is now.
Quiroz hooked up in a pitcher’s duel with Methuen southpaw Cam Cyr and proved just good enough, slaying the Rangers in a 2-1 Lawrence Invitational Tournament opening thriller.
“I wasn’t happy with last year, so I worked through the offseason,” said Quiroz. “I worked on my shoulder, and my fastball is now a lot better.”
The Lancer righty improved to 5-1 on the year, lowering his ERA to 1.62 with a four-hit complete game.
Still, the prospect of a Ranger upset hung in the most over Devlin Field for most of the night.
Evan Lacroix singled home Dicky Aziz in the third inning, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The crafty Cyr made that single run advantage look almost insurmountable, mowing through the Lancers with nary a scare through five shutout frames.
Lawrence, the MVC small school champ, finally solved the riddle in the sixth.
Elvis Peralta and Jose Abreu opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Peralta raced home on Jose Abreu’s one-hop RBI ground out. A sweet Cyr pickoff for the second out cleared the bases, but the Lancers weren’t done.
Elvis Batista sliced a double to right and Javier Morales tripled to deep, deep center, chasing home what was the eventual game-winner.
Quiroz came out to pitch the seventh inning, his first of the night with a lead and immediately gave up a lead single to Enrique Veras.
That sent Lancer ace Joan Vargas scrambling to get loose in the pen.
“I saw him out there, but I didn’t let it bother me,” said Quiroz. “I was focused on what I had to do, and I wasn’t coming out.”