WORCESTER — With his team in dire straights, Elvis Rosario knew he had to lift them up.
He was more than ready for the task.
The sure-handed righty tossed 5.2 solid innings on Saturday, scattering seven hits and two earned runs to help Lawrence Post 15 eliminate Stamford (Conn.) Post 3 with a 9-2 win. It’s a win that keeps Lawrence alive in the New England regional championship.
Heading into Sunday’s final day, Lawrence will need to beat Shrewsbury Post 397 twice to win the title and advance to the Legion World Series in North Carolina next week. Game 1 from Holy Cross starts at 1 p.m., with a second game if necessary at 4 p.m.
“It was a great feeling,” said Rosario. “We needed that one.”
Rosario’s performance was huge for Lawrence in a couple of ways.
For starters, of course, he got the win — which is what Lawrence needed first and foremost. But what his 100-plus-pitch effort — coupled with the fact that he dealt well into the sixth inning — allowed Lawrence to do was rest its pitching for “Championship Sunday.”
Now, Post 15 has ace Miguel Matos ready for Sunday’s must-win game against Shrewsbury.
“Elvis did an unbelievable job,” said coach Julio Ramos. “He pitched a big game and kept us in there. We were really blessed that he gave us such a good outing.”
Perhaps Rosario’s best inning was the bottom of the fourth.
His team had given him a 4-0 lead after three, but Stamford posted a pair in the bottom of the frame to cut the deficit in half. The Lawrence bats were then retired in order in the top of the fourth, so it was up to Rosario to stop the momentum and deliver a clean inning.
He did, then in the top of the fifth Lawrence plated five runs to break open a 9-2 lead. Bryan Guerrero and Henry Checo each had RBI-singles in the inning, but the big hit was a towering two-run double off the left field wall, coming off the bat of John Batista.
With the game in hand, flamethrower Armani Paulino came in to get the final four outs.
It all sets up another do-or-die day on Sunday, with Lawrence needing just two more wins to punch its ticket to Legion baseball’s final stage.
Lawrence 9, Stamford 2
Northeast Legion Championship Fourth Round
LAWRENCE POST 15 (9): Kebler Peralta ss 3-1-0, Anibal Pena 2b 3-2-1, Bryan Guerrero 3b 3-1-1, Christian Varona 1b 3-1-1, Henry Checo c 2-1-2, Ivinson Batista rf 3-2-1, John Batista cf 4-1-2, Luis Colon lf 3-0-1, Luis Mejia dh 2-0-1, Elvis Rosario p 0-0-0, Armani Paulino p 0-0-0. Totals: 26-9-10
STAMFORD POST 3 (2): Noah Skaug 2b 4-0-0, T.J. Wainwright ss 3-1-1, Joe Skarad c 3-0-0, Reid Gesualdi rf 4-0-1, Joe Gambino 1b 3-0-1, Shane Hackett 3b 3-0-1, Matt Wirz p 2-0-0, Bobby Cribbin cf 3-0-1, Jaden Dawkins lf 3-1-2, Grant Purpura p 0-0-0. Totals 28-2-7
RBI: L — J. Batista 3, Guerrero, Varona, Checo, I. Batista, Colon; S — Wainwright
WP: Rosario; LP: Purpura
Lawrence: 013 050 0 – 9
Stamford: 002 000 0 – 2