The Ceres Blaze 10-and-under travel baseball team had to settle for a runner-up showing at the TPR July Classic this past week in Ripon.
"It was higher-level competition," head coach Antone Lopez said. "We wanted to go outside our comfort zone before the big tournament (Pony Super Regional). The last few weeks, we've been blowing everybody out."
The Blaze compiled a 3-1 record at Mistlin Sports Park and improved to 54-23 this past week.
Ceres lost 7-2 to the Golden Spikes of Rocklin in the championship game of the July Classic on Sunday.
Down 4-2, the Blaze allowed three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"We competed with them," Lopez said.
Blaze pitcher Wyatt Moring tallied six strikeouts and no walks in five innings.
Ceres' Victor Alvarez and Ryan Estermann collected RBI singles in the top of the fifth inning. Alvarez and Diego Nida accounted for both of the Blaze's runs.
Estermann, Ceres' second baseman on defense, made an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow center field in the bottom of the first inning.
The Blaze shut out the Little Warriors of Newman 8-0 in the semifinals on Sunday.
Roland Brown hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the game.
Brock Sanconi's bid for a perfect game was broken up in the top of the fourth inning.
Sanconi allowed one hit, struck out eight and walked one.
Ceres routed Tracy Heat 18-3 and K-Zone Mustangs of Modesto 14-3 on Saturday.
Aiden Taylor belted a three-run homer versus K-Zone.
Blaze catcher Gabrial Lopez threw out three runners on steal attempts and allowed just one passed ball during the course of the tournament.
Ceres has played a total of 77 games since opening the 2014-15 campaign last fall.