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All-Stars top Blaze for Pony-division championship
The Ceres All-Stars defeated the Ceres Blaze 4-3 in the title game of the 44th Annual George Costa Baseball Invitational this past week in Ceres. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Ceres All-Stars and Ceres Blaze advanced to the championship game of the 44th Annual George Costa Invitational last week.

The 14-and-under All-Stars edged the 13-and-under Blaze 4-3 for the Pony division title on Wednesday in Ceres.

"It was a close game from start to finish," All-Stars coach Carmelo Ramos said. "Both teams played really well."

The All-Stars won all five of their games and improved to 6-2-1 on the year. The All-Stars took first at the Bel Passi tourney.

The Blaze beat three of their four opponents en route to a runner-up finish at the Costa event.

The Blaze have placed in six of seven tournaments this season, taking first once, second four times and third once.

"We have really good players," Ramos said. "The main thing is they gelled together really well from the very beginning. They play for each other."

Ricky Lopez and Michael Avetia pitched complete games for the All-Stars and Blaze, respectively, during the finals matchup.

Lopez tallied five strikeouts in seven innings.

"He gave up back-to-back triples," Ramos said. "It didn't faze him. He kept throwing."

Down 3-2, the All-Stars plated two runs in the final inning to secure the victory.

Darius Meas drew a walk, stole second, moved to third on Jose Hernandez Jr.'s bunt and scored on Adrian Magdaleno's bloop single to center.

Hernandez, who reached first on a throwing error, accounted for the winning run. Jose scored when Daniel Valencia hit a sharp grounder to the Blaze's shortstop. The throw home was late.

"It was a dramatic play," Ramos said. "It was close."

"Our kids played their hearts out," Blaze coach Mike Vivo said. "We had a great tournament."