May 5—MONTVILLE — Joe Basso wouldn't have had to motor around the bases Tuesday afternoon had the St. Bernard baseball team still been playing at Dodd Stadium.
The Saints had been commuting to Norwich to play their home games since 2011 because their home field up on the (steep) hill behind the school was unusable. They're no longer wanderers and are back home playing on a refurbished field this spring with outfield fences closer to Electric Boat than home plate.
So when Basso crushed a fastball into left centerfield in the bottom of the fifth inning against Tourtellotte, the ball didn't clear the fence, rather it kept going-and-going before finally dropping way off yonder.
The long distance Basso hit allowed him to get around the bases for a two-run, go-ahead inside-the-park home run that gave St. Bernard a 4-2 win over the Tigers in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II game.
"I heard my teammates yelling at me, so I just sped up," said Basso, a sophomore catcher. "They were motivating me the whole time. ... It just felt great."
Senior teammate Kyle Egan said, "I'd say its 550 (feet) to dead center."
Egan scattered five hits over 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and five walks for the Saints (5-5, 5-5) while sophomore Luca Muscarella hit an RBI single and scored twice.
Junior Guiseppie Satti added a triple and an RBI, sophomore Ethan Chavez singled and scored, and Basso had two hits.
Senior Brady Monahan had two hits and two RBI for the Tigers. Juniors Brayden Akana and Alex Grauer both singled and scored, too.
A crowd of fans (and cars) surrounded the field behind home plate and both dugouts, elevated on yet another hill with a scenic view of the woods way off in the distance.
"I really like playing up here on the hill," Egan said. "I like having people here; people watching us. (You) just walk up the hill instead of having to drive to Dodd. It feels like home."
Basso said, "I love it. This is our field. We (play) here. It feels great to finally be here and defend our home turf."
The Saints rallied twice for the win. Muscarella walked with one out in the bottom of the first and went to third on Basso's single. Satti followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1.
Tourtellotte went back ahead 2-1 on Monahan's RBI single with one out in the fifth.
Chavez singled to lead off the St. Bernard fifth and went all the way around to third on senior Walker Baillargeon's groundout. Muscarella followed with a bunt down the third baseline with Chavez scoring on a bang-bang play at the plate to tie the game.
Basso followed with his inside-the-park home run.
"I think we're the hardest working team in the league," Baillargeon said. "No doubt in my mind. Three hour practices a day and hitting for probably two hours of that practice. Hard work pays off. I think it's going to work out the rest of the season."