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An enemy sighting at Dodd?

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published April 25. 2012 4:00AM

Norwich

It was hard to believe - did the eyes deceive? - that here Tuesday at Dodd Stadium, auxiliary home field for the UConn Huskies, the home team was could it be the BC Eagles?

Holy Hallucinations, Batman.

Did UConn know about this? This was like Billy Curley donning the whites inside the XL Center. Did the UConn fans know about this invasion? They'd have been interested, surely, if only to heave rotten tomatoes at the BC team bus. Or perhaps to post their musings to each other, killing all things BC. Remember: If you want to find out the BC score, just go to the UConn message boards.

So odd at Dodd. And at a little after 8 p.m. with the temperature a crisp 47 degrees, the homestanding Eagles earned a 2-1 win over St. John's, completing Boston College Day in Connecticut.

Winning pitcher: West Haven High grad Eric Stone.

Musical accompaniment from stadium sound engineer Ryan Lefler for BC closer Matt Brazis: The Dropkick Murphys and "Shipping Up To Boston."

Musical accompaniment after Brazis got the last out: "Dirty Water."

"That was awesome," BC outfielder Tom Bourdon of Simsbury said. "The people here (the staff of the Connecticut Tigers) did a great job. It was a lot like home. What a great place to play."

And somewhere, UConn fans probably felt nameless twinges of discomfort throughout Tuesday night.

OK. Now for the question. Why on earth would BC play a home game in enemy territory?

"I have a lot of respect for (St. John's) coach (Ed) Blankmeyer," BC coach Mike Gambino said. "I want to play them. But it's so far away, a real grind for a midweek game. So we figured we'd meet halfway. It's such a great stadium. I love it."

A more trained eyed might have detected a smirk from Gambino, when it was suggested that a BC victory in Connecticut might irritate a few UConn loyalists. Gambino said he'd like to return for a game here next season, too.

"We have a lot of alumni in Connecticut," he said. "And we recruit here a lot."

Stone and Bourdon join pitcher Taylor Lasko of Stratford and Rob Moir of Seymour as the Connecticut guys on the BC roster.

"I like recruiting here," Gambino said. "Connecticut is full of tough, New England kids who value education and don't mind playing in the cold. We offer the best of both worlds: One of the best educations in the country and a chance to play in the best league in the country."

That's the Atlantic Coast Conference. Since BC's move to the ACC, the baseball program has made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 40 years and has sent a number of players to professional baseball, including Norwich Free Academy grad Eric Campbell. Even this season's 16-25 record has produced record crowds at cozy Shea Field and wins over No. 1 Florida State, No. 7 Central Florida and No. 22 North Carolina State. The Eagles have also beaten UConn and St. John's, both of which are sharing the lead in the Big East with South Florida.

"I do take (some ribbing) for going to BC from people in Connecticut," Bourdon said. "But it was a no-brainer. Great academics and the ACC."

Maybe next year who knows maybe we can get the UConn-BC game baseball here at Dodd. It's one of the few sports in which the schools still compete. Go figure. There's no posturing, grandstanding or blustering from athletic directors, politicians or any other gasbags. Just two schools that share distaste for each other. It's only the foundation of a wonderful rivalry.

And again who knows maybe an annual baseball game could lead to games in other sports.

But for now, the Eagles will look fondly on our corner of the world. Stone, the freshman right-hander, earned his first collegiate win in his home state. And everyone left happy, especially when the Tigers provided some food for the bus ride home.

Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris. And the 2012 BC Eagles will always have Connecticut. Who knew?

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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