'Unforgettable' Opener at New Marlins Park

High school teams square off in first game played at new stadium

By Gilma Avalos
|  Tuesday, Mar 6, 2012  |  Updated 8:54 AM EDT
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It was a game of firsts Monday night in Little Havana. A first pitch at the first game in the new Miami Marlins Ballpark between Belen Jesuit and Christopher Columbus High. Players Christian Solis and Mike Vinson, student David Rojo and spectators Carmen Garcia-Velez and Rafael Almendral discuss the game.

It was a game of firsts Monday night in Little Havana. A first pitch at the first game in the new Miami Marlins Ballpark between Belen Jesuit and Christopher Columbus High. Players Christian Solis and Mike Vinson, student David Rojo and spectators Carmen Garcia-Velez and Rafael Almendral discuss the game.

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It was a game of firsts Monday night in Little Havana. A first pitch at the first game in the new Miami Marlins Ballpark. 

"Its an honor. I get butterflies thinking about stepping on the mound for the first pitch ever," said Belen student Christian Solis, thrilled to have the first pitch at the stadium.

The honor of trying out the Marlins' new digs went to long standing rivals Belen Jesuit and Christopher Columbus High. The two teams faced off, looking for a win and of course, bragging rights.

The excitement was felt from the moment the teams walked onto the field. Some snapping pictures to commemorate a day that will be hard to forget.

"It's something we'll never forget, we'll tell our kids someday," said Columbus senior pitcher Mike Vinson.

The 6,000 seats available to watch the two prep schools square off sold out within minutes. A hot ticket for fans of the serious but friendly rivalry. From Wolverines in the making to current Explorers, the fans cheered their team on.

"My best friend goes to Belen, he plays baseball. I want him to do well but I can't root against my team," said Columbus student David Rojo.

In addition to this game. There are two exhibition games planned against UM and FIU this week. Those games are designed to make sure stadium operations run smoothly in preparation for the April 4th season opener.

Overall, fans said so far, so good.

"The facilities are first rate, wonderful. The building was easy to access, I don't think there's a bad seat in the house," said Carmen Garcia-Velez.

But some did complain that the lines for concessions were a little too long. Others were concerned about the potential for crowds at handicap entrances.

"If there are a lot of handicap people I think they'll have to do something to accommodate traffic, there are only two entrances to get in and out," said Rafael Almendral.

Marlins staff did say not all handicap accessible entrances were open during this first game because the crowd was more manageable. More will open to accommodate larger crowds.

Games are already sold out for the exhibitions against UM and FIU. Come April 4th, the Miami Marlins expect a full house of fans in all 37,000 seats for the season opener.

Columbus defeated Belen Jesuit 6-4.

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