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Citi Field to host lacrosse doubleheader Sunday

The scoreboard displays a congratulatory message after R.A.

The scoreboard displays a congratulatory message after R.A. Dickey earned his 20th win of the season as the Mets defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. (Sept. 27, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Let's go nets.

Fifteen days before the Mets open the season, Citi Field will host the inaugural Metropolitan Lacrosse Classic, only the second time a major-league baseball stadium has staged college lacrosse, according to the Mets. In 1971, Navy played Johns Hopkins at the Houston Astrodome.

Holy Cross plays Navy at noon Sunday, followed by Colgate-Michigan at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Michigan is the alma mater of Fred Wilpon, the Mets' chief executive.

"Playing on a baseball field is going to be kind of funny, contradictory," said Michigan freshman goalie Gerald Logan, a graduate of Sachem North and one of nearly 40 Long Islanders on the four teams.

This will be Logan's first visit to Citi Field. He attended games at Shea Stadium, where his father, a policeman, worked security. "I remember meeting Pedro Martinez and John Franco," he said.

The growing popularity of lacrosse spurred the Mets to schedule the doubleheader. "We're always looking for other events to hold here at Citi Field," Mets vice president Dave Howard said. "We felt it was an opportunity to open up Citi Field for another high-profile event, create what we think will be an ongoing event."

Citi's setup for lacrosse will run from the third base/leftfield line out toward right-center. Howard does not expect the natural grass field to be impacted. "We have this pretty sophisticated system where we can jump-start the growing season for the grass through the [drainage] beneath the surface," he said. "And lacrosse, generally speaking, [the play] is pretty evenly distributed." Areas around the crease will be attended to if needed, Howard said.

Colgate senior midfielder Ben Shapiro of Syosset is a Mets season-ticket holder. "I can't wait. It's a dream come true," Shapiro said. "I was on the warning track for a batting-practice session they allowed for season-ticket holders. It will be a great feeling. The place I go to a lot in the summer, I can say, 'I was on that field.' My family's been talking about the game for a while, excited about watching me and the team play."

Colgate was the surprise team of the 2012 season, advancing to the national quarterfinals and producing Tewaaraton Award winner Peter Baum, who grew up in Portland, Ore., but has family roots on Long Island, where his father attended Smithtown High School.

Baum was recruited to Colgate by Jim Nagle, now the coach at Stony Brook. "He's the one who brought me out here. I learned a ton from him," Baum said. "He's still loved by a lot of the guys in our locker room here. He's remembered fondly."

Howard said future scheduling likely will include elite matchups, similar to the more established Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium.

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