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Blaze 12s squander lead late, fall 9-8 to Bel Passi Royal Blue in finals
The Ceres Blaze 12-and-under travel baseball team had a comfortable 8-2 lead and needed to register just six more outs to claim the Bel Passi tournament title.

Host Bel Passi Royal Blue rallied late and stunned the Blaze with an improbable 9-8 victory on July 25 in Modesto.

"Everyone was feeling confident," Blaze head coach Carmelo Ramos said. "Then all of a sudden it went downhill. It's disappointing but you have to give credit to the other team. They were down, played through it and came out on top."

Ceres held a six-run lead through four innings.

Bel Passi cut the deficit to 8-7 in the fifth on the strength of two homers.

The Blaze allowed two runs in the final inning.

"Our kids played really well up until the fifth inning," Ramos said. "We just didn't make plays down the stretch."

The Blaze compiled a 3-3 record at the Bel Passi tournament.

Ceres opened the tournament with a 14-9 win against Bel Passi Royal on July 19.

The Blaze edged out the Ceres All-Stars 4-3 and pounded Oakdale 10-3 on July 22.

Gabriel Campos hit a two-run, walk-off homer against the All-Stars.

The Blaze lost 7-6 to the All-Stars in the semifinals on July 24.

Unable to play for the championship due to another priority (Pony Super Regionals), the All-Stars had the Blaze step in as a replacement.

The Blaze placed at five different tournaments this summer.

Ceres took first once (Newman), second three times (Pony Sections, Bel Passi and Merced), and third once (Pony Regionals).

"I'm really proud of the kids," Ramos said. "They did an awesome job. Our main goal was to prepare them for the next level. Overall, I feel like we've done that."