Even the second time around left a lump in Ty Smith's throat.
"The atmosphere, the music, the field, you can't help but be in awe here," said the St. Mary's senior outfielder at Monday's annual Southern Colorado High School All-Star Game at Security Service Field. "I still like to run out to center field and look in, seeing the mountains. Any baseball player would fall in love with this. This is why you play the game."
For the second consecutive year, Security Service Field hosted the Memorial Day doubleheader, keeping alive a 52-year streak of the longest-running high school all-star event in Colorado.
In the 4A-5A senior contest, four 5A pitchers combined to throw four-hit ball, and Mitch Langer of Fountain-Fort Carson capped a two-run first inning with an RBI single for the eventual game-winning run in a 6-1 victory.
The 4A juniors scored an 8-5 win in the first of the two all-star games, played after Monday's Sky Sox matinee.
"We want a kid to be able to finish his career on such a high note, to be able to play on a beautiful field," Sky Sox president and general manager Tony Ensor said. "We wanted them to come away with something special that they can always remember."
Smith, a first-team all-state 3A selection, was added to the 5A squad for Monday's nightcap featuring the area's best seniors. Meanwhile, teammate and longtime friend Logan Elliot wore the home uniform of 4A.
Both earned spots on the junior all-star team last season, but making it back to the main event, under the lights, to finish their high school careers made Monday's game even more special.
"For most of the guys, it's their last game," said Elliot, who's headed for Benedictine College for the next step on his journey. "Games like this are a lot of fun, but still kind of surreal playing in a place like this."
Both Pirates eventually figured in the scoring. Smith reached on a fielder's choice in the sixth inning and later scored on a throwing error. Elliot lined a sharp single to right-center with one out in the seventh.
"Logan and I have been throwing buddies every single game since our freshman year," said Smith, who will attend college at Gonzaga. "So it's not exactly fitting to see it end with us on different teams. Coming from a 3A school, we feel we have something to prove here. That's what I'm here for, and we were here to back up that point again."