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.”
Quiroz got a sac bunt, a flyout and struck out the final hitter as Veras got no further than second base.
Lawrence now awaits the winner of tonight’s scheduled semifinal here at Devlin Field, here between North Andover and Tewksbury.
The title game is set for Friday night, here at 7 p.m.
agateHed:Lawrence 2, Methuen 1
agateText:Methuen (1): Evan Lacroix rf 3-0-2, Danny Aziz lf 3-0-0, Brian Cole lf 0-0-0, Jon Pierce ss 3-0-0, Enrique Veras 3b 3-0-2, Derek Fox 2b 2-0-0, Gary Carbonneau c 3-0-0, Anthony Martinez dh 2-0-0, Danny Bonnano ph 1-0-0, Dicky Aziz 1b 1b 1-1-0, Cam Cyr p 2-0-0, Jeff Bajor cf 0-0-0, Totals 23-1-4
agateText:Lawrence (2): Elvis Peralta ss 3-1-1, Jose Cedano c 3-0-1, Jose Abreu cf 3-0-1, Elvis Batista 1b 3-1-1, Javier Morales dh 3-0-1, Jose Martinez rf 3-0-0, Brahiam Ortega 2b 1-0-0, Edison Urena 3b 2-0-0, Antonio Rodrigues lf 2-0-0, Samuel Quiroz p 0-0-0, Totals 23-2-5
agateText:RBI: M — Lacroix; L — Abreu, Morales
agateText:WP: Quiroz (5-1); LP: Cyr (3-5)
agateText:Methuen (5-12): 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 — 1
agateText:Lawrence (15-6): 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 — 2