Ceres High's varsity baseball team fell two wins shy of earning the right to play for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV crown.
The second-seeded Fighting Zebras of Lincoln topped the third-seeded Bulldogs 2-0 in a best-of-three semifinal matchup at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi.
Ceres High squandered leads during both games.
"Even though our season is done, I still think we could have been section champions," Bulldogs' senior shortstop Ricky Lopez said. "We had the talent to win it all."
The Bulldogs had to settle for a top-four finish in the section after closing out the 2017 season with a 7-5 loss to the Fighting Zebras on May 23.
Ahead 5-4, Ceres High gave up three runs in the top of the seventh inning.
"It just sucks our season ended," Lopez said. "We struggled to execute. We just couldn't capitalize. That's why we're home and they're not."
The Bulldogs lost despite a productive day on offense against the Fighting Zebras (23-7).
Ceres High had 10 hits.
Senior Blane Abeyta batted 2-for-4 with one double, one RBI and one run.
Senior Ismael Ontiveros batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Senior Ricky Lopez batted 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Adrian Magdaleno batted 1-for-3 with one double and one run.
Austin Schmidt batted 1-for-3 with one run.
Brock DeWitt batted 1-for-4 with one run.
Freshman Josh Pernetti batted 1-for-1 with one run.
Senior Zach Kommavong batted 1-for-2.
Magdaleno (9-2) suffered just his second loss of the season at pitcher.
Adrian allowed six earned runs and 11 hits with four strikeouts and three walks in seven innings.
Lincoln battled back from a 4-1 deficit in beating Ceres High 14-4 in six innings on May 20.
Senior Adrian Lujan led the way on offense with two singles, one RBI and one run.
Brock Moore batted 1-for-2 with one double and two RBIs.
Abeyta batted 1-for-3 with one double, one RBI and one run.
Lopez batted 2-for-3 with one run.
Ontiveros batted 1-for-2 with one run.
DeWitt and Schmidt both singled.
Freshman Dalton Durossette sustained just his fourth loss on the year at pitcher.
He yielded five earned runs and seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks in 31/3 innings.
Abeyta allowed five hits and eight earned runs with two strikeouts and five walks in 21/3 innings.
Ceres High rallied for a 10-9 win over No. 6 El Dorado in the first round on May 17.
The Bulldogs won despite committing eight errors and blowing a 7-3 lead versus the Cougars (20-8).
Ceres High erased a 9-7 deficit by scoring three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ontiveros' walk-off single scored Eric Davis and set off a wild celebration.
Bulldogs players stormed the field and formed a dogpile.
"That was a miracle," Lopez said.
The two teams combined for 28 hits, including 14 apiece.
Abeyta batted 1-for-4 with a homer, four RBIs and one run.
Schmidt batted 3-for-4 with one double, one RBI and one run.
DeWitt batted 2-for-2 with three runs.
Lujan batted 1-for-4 with one RBI and one run.
Ontiveros batted 1-for-5 with one RBI and one run.
Kommavong batted 2-for-4 with two doubles and one run.
Lopez batted 2-or-4 with one triple and one RBI.
Moore singled twice.
Eric Davis and Felipe Martinez chipped in with one run each.
Durossette notched his seventh victory of the season while tossing 11/3 innings of relief.
Dalton gave up two earned runs and two hits with one strikeout and one walk.
Magdaleno, Ceres High's starter, surrendered three earned runs and 11 hits with three strikeouts and one walk in 52/3 innings.
Ceres High posted an impressive 23-7 overall record this spring.
The Bulldogs placed second in the Western Athletic Conference (12-3). Ceres High won its final nine league games.
The Bulldogs quadrupled their WAC victory total from a year ago. The 2016 Bulldogs went 11-15 and finished fourth in the conference standings (3-9).
"We wanted to win WAC," Lopez said. "We fell short. We reached our other goal. We made it to playoffs. We wanted to win sections. But that didn't happen. I'm still proud of my team. Nobody expected us to make it this far."