Yes, Masconomet and Andover weren't asked back. And interested newcomers like Lowell and Chelmsford were told, "no thanks."

That doesn't mean the four-team Lawrence Invitational Baseball Tournament won't be special this coming week.

It just means we'll all have to find something better to do with our Saturday and Sunday nights.

The Lawrence Tourney features a pair of top 10 Eastern Mass. teams in host team Lawrence and Cape Ann League champion North Andover.

Each would have to be considered a heavy favorite to reach the title game with wins on Thursday.

At 4:30, it's North Andover and Tewksbury, followed by Lawrence and Methuen at 7 p.m.

The potential opening round showdown between Columbia-bound Mike Weisman of North Andover and UConn-bound Matt Luppi of Tewksbury might have been erased when Luppi left yesterday's game with Wilmington with an undisclosed injury.

Even if the Lancers went with Victor Mendez on Thursday, they can come right back with Yunior Vasquez in a potential final with Brandon Walsh and the Knights.

Of course, Methuen will enter as the hungriest club of the four, needing wins badly to qualify for the state tourney. The Rangers are 7-9, but until Friday's loss to Whittier had been playing their best baseball.

Spofford Tourney field set

Quickly becoming a weekend tradition is the Spofford Memorial Championship Tournament at Georgetown, saluting the late legendary Cape Ann League coach and chief historian Bert Spofford.

Saturday at noon, it's Ipswich vs. Newburyport with Georgetown and Amesbury colliding at 3 p.m. Sunday's title game will be held at noon, followed by the consolation at 3 p.m.

Ipswich, Georgetown and last year's champ Amesbury all have claimed a Spofford title. Newburyport, at 13-5, has to be considered the favorite in the field as the Clippers bid to make it four different champs in four years.

Georgetown coach Mark Rowe is currently contemplating his pitching options.

Tuesday, Ryan Browner will take the hill against Wilmington, but that means he could pitch the opener on Saturday with three days' rest or a potential title game Sunday on regular rest.

"My little freshman Pat Slack did a pretty good number on Amesbury yesterday, so we definitely have something to think about," said Rowe.

Enemies yesterday, best buddies today

It's official, the folks around Central Catholic will be rooting for Andover.

The Raiders, now 8-4 in the league, can still claim a share of the title, but they need to knock off Chelmsford. Then the key will be in tonight's Spinner Cup tourney opener vs. Lowell at 5 p.m. as Central needs Andover to beat the Red Raiders.

For Andover, every win matters right now at 8-8 overall, in need of the magic 10 wins to make the Division 1 North sectional tournament.

"We won the Spinner Cup last year, and it pretty much got us into the state tournament last year," said Andover senior third baseman Ned Deane. "Now, we're hoping we can defend our title." The Spinner Cup, which always features four Valley teams, has become a nice little carat for the local contingent.

"That whole experience, on that field in the Spinners' stadium is just awesome," said Deane. "We beat Lowell in the first round last year, and they are a very good team. We like to challenge ourselves."

By the way, Andover closes out the year in tough fashion, heading to the Peabody Tournament with Everett and Masconomet.

The Warriors had been a regular in the Lawrence Invitational Tournament but were not asked back in lieu of Tewksbury, when the event was dropped from 6 to 4 teams.

Frasier Field-bound

On Sunday and Monday, per usual, Frank Carey's North Reading Hornets head to Frasier Field in Lynn for the annual Nipper Clancy Tournament.

A win in the opener vs. Lynn Classical would yield a title shot against the St. Mary-Lynn English winner on Memorial Day.

Defending the CAL

His baseball team now in the midst of one of the most dominating rolls any team has seen in the Cape Ann League, with 12 straight victories with an 88-12 run margin over the past eight of them, North Andover coach Todd Dulin decided to defend himself, his team and his league.

"I did the research and found that in the last three years, the Cape Ann League has gone 18-5 head-to-head against the MVC and 60-39 overall against non-league opponents," said Dulin. "And I know for sure that our record in the North sectional tournament is better than anyone else's."

If Dulin is to be believed, than what do you make of these 2011 Knights, who had a string of 36 scoreless innings against in the CAL ended in Saturday's 11-2 victory over Rockport?

Facing back-to-back dates vs. Masco and a pair of games in the Lawrence Invitational Tournament, the 15-1 Knights will be hunting to lock down the top seed in Division 2 North this week.

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