The Ceres Blaze finished among the top four teams while competing at the Pony Baseball Mustang Super Region Tournament this past week in Ceres.
The 10-and-under travel youth baseball team compiled a 2-2 record at George Costa Ball Field Complex.
The double-elimination tournament featured eight teams.
"We had higher aspirations," Blaze head coach Antone Lopez said. "We felt we were a good enough team to win it. We didn't play our best when we needed to. I'm still proud of the kids. We got far this year."
Hurt by two errors, Ceres lost 5-3 to the eventual-champion Bel Passi Thunder in the semifinals on Saturday.
"We didn't play well enough," Lopez said. "It wasn't one of our best games."
The Blaze collected seven hits on offense.
Victor Alvarez had three hits.
Ryan Estermann drove in two runs.
Wyatt Moring and Brock Fanconi combined to strikeout seven batters while splitting time at pitcher.
Tied at 3-3, Ceres allowed one run in both the fourth and fifth innings.
The Blaze threatened in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Ceres failed to score despite having two runners on base with no outs.
Bel Passi got out of the jam as it picked off a Blaze runner, threw out a Ceres player on a steal attempt and induced a popup.
"They came up with a couple big hits after errors," Lopez said. "That was the difference. They have a juggernaut at that age level. They're always good. We'll figure out a way to beat them next season."
The Blaze lost three times to the Thunder at tournaments this year.
Ceres defeated Paso Red 8-4 in the quarterfinals on July 25.
The Blaze totaled nine hits.
Moring led the way with two hits and three RBIs.
Estermann knocked in two runs.
Gabrial Lopez had one RBI.
Estermann and Fanconi both pitched.
Brock tallied four strikeouts, while Ryan had three.
Ceres made four errors on defense.
Ceres shut out El Cerrito 9-0 on July 24.
The Blaze pounded 10 hits.
Alvarez had three hits.
Zack Martinez chipped in with two hits and one RBI.
Estermann and Diego Nida both collected two RBIs.
Moring starred at pitcher, striking out five batters in three innings.
Ceres opened the tournament with a 4-2 loss to the North Bay Admirals on July 23.
The Blaze mustered just four hits on offense.
Ceres also contributed to its own demise by committing two errors.
The Blaze surrendered four runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Ceres tallied its runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
Lopez had one hit and one RBI during the course of the game.
Fanconi added two hits.
Alvarez contributed one hit.
Fanconi and Moring, Ceres' pitchers, limited the Admirals to just two hits.
Brock had five strikeouts.
Wyatt tallied two strikeouts.
The Blaze defeated the Admirals at the Bel Passi Thunder Tournament at the beginning of the year.
The Blaze posted a 56-25 overall record this year.
Ceres played a total of 81 games since opening the 2014-15 season last fall.
The Blaze won four titles, placed second four times and finished third once.
Ceres' roster featured 12 players: Moring, Alvarez, Estermann, Nida, Fanconi, Martinez, Gabrial Lopez, Roland Brown, Josh Prestridge, Aiden Taylor, Nick Villalobos and Sammy Wilson.
The core of this year's team led the Blaze 9s to a 30-16-1 mark and third-place finish at Super Regionals in 2013-14.
"We got to the same exact point last year," coach Lopez said. "But we won so many more tournaments this year. I can't be disappointed. We took a step in the right direction. We're getting better. The kids had a lot of pressure on them the last three months."
The Blaze will compete in the 11-year-old division this fall.
Tryouts will be staged in August.
For more information, contact coach Lopez at 380-5039.
"There are going to be a couple open spots," he said.