MIAMI--It was a high school baseball game like no other in South Florida.
With about 6,000 spectators both cheering them on and soaking up the historic night at Marlins Park, players from Christopher Columbus and Belen Jesuit high schools were living in an alternate universe on Monday night.
For about three hours under the stars on the same site where the landmark Orange Bowl made memories for so many young gridders, the sluggers from the Explorers and Wolverines saw their own dreams come true.
And while the scoreboard relayed a 6-4 Columbus victory, there were no losers on this historic evening in the Little Havana neighborhood.
Thanks to the Miami Marlins, the scholastic ballclubs were the first to take the field as Marlins Park hosted its first game ever on a perfect night for baseball.
Just minutes after the Belen Jesuit Jazz Band played a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, the starters from Belen Jesuit ran out on the diamond as the crowd stood and applauded.
It took only three batters to create a magical moment when Jesuit center fielder Joey Rodriguez got a perfect jump on a sinking liner and made a diving catch to rob Danny Lynch of what would have been the first hit at Marlins Park.
"I felt like I was on the top at that moment," said Rodriguez, who also had the first stolen base in the ballpark and singled twice. "I saw that (the ball) stayed up a little so I knew I could get to it and I dove at the last second and got it."
The honor of the first hit went to Mike Vinson, whose grounder found its way through the infield. Vinson also pitched a solid game and came through with a triple for the Columbus squad.
'It's a memory that I'll never forget...it's something I'll be able to tell my kids and grandkids," Vinson said. "It's really something special. "
He said just being a part of the inaugural attraction at the stadium was awesome.
"We all felt like major leaguers out there and I'm sure (the Belen team) felt the same way," Vinson said. "It was a tremendous honor to be here."
The biggest thrill hands-down belonged to the Explorers' Brent Diaz, whose seventh-inning home run that landed inside the Marlins' bullpen in left field had him celebrating all around the basepaths.
"It was surreal. That's the only word I can think of," said Diaz, who was mobbed by his Columbus teammates when he reached home plate. "It's just incredible; the best feeling I've had so far in my life."
The first RBI was logged by Lazaro Rivera, who also had the first extra-base hit when he tripled during a two-run second inning for the Explorers. He added a run-scoring double later in the game.
"It was amazing. To have the first at-bat and the first RBI in the new stadium, it felt great," Rivera said. "It was absolutely a dream come true."
Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Danny Guevarra and Alex Lavendero connected for RBI hits as the Wolverines made a terrific comeback bid that fell just short.