EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 22, 2013

Lancers heavily favored in Lawrence Invitational

Two of the participants in this week’s Lawrence Invitational Baseball Tournament, Tewksbury and Lawrence, have already qualified for the upcoming state playoffs.

Another, North Andover, can do so with a victory in Thursday night’s opener vs. the Redmen.

The fourth, Methuen?

Well, this is it for the Rangers. The Lawrence Invitational is now their season.

Momentum and area bragging rights are on the line at Devlin Field as the traditional event hosted by Lawrence High kicks off tonight.

Here’s a look at the four participants:

Lawrence (14-6): The clear cut favorite in this event. Lawrence High has already locked down an MVC small division title tie with Billerica.

The surprising Lancers will send MVC small MVP Joan Vargas (4-2, 2.16 ERA) to the hill on at least one of the two nights.

Dazzling sophomore shortstop Elvis Peralta and slugger Jose Abreu power the attack (.328, 17 runs, 22 RBIs).

Methuen (5-11): Nothing to lose here for the Rangers, who snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday with a win over Dracut.

Leadoff man Evan Lacroix (.304) has to find a way to kick-start a slumbering offense.

Don’t be fooled, though.

With Cam Cyr, Enrique Veras and Brian Reyes, the Rangers have enough to pull off the unthinkable and win this thing.

Tewksbury (5-13): Freshman Brett Morris (3-1, 2.26) will get the ball in the opener. He’s already beaten North Andover twice this season.

League all-stars Mike Casey in center, Zak DiRocco at first base and designated hitter Cam Olivera hope to carry the Redmen offense. Tewksbury has already qualified for the Division 2 North tourney via the Sullivan Rule.

North Andover (5-13): North Andover clinches a Division 2 tourney berth via the Sullivan Rule with a win over Tewksbury in the opener or later in the weekend against Pentucket.

The Knights have gotten an all-conference season out of first baseman Tyler Whitley and should expect a strong closing kick from the senior slugger.

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