The Ceres Blaze 9-year-old travel baseball team rode a wave of momentum into the July 22-25 Pony Baseball West Zone-NorCal Mustang Zone Tournament.
Vying for a berth to the World Series, Ceres fell short of its goal.
The Blaze placed in the top six at the eight-team event, held July 22-25, at Creekside Park in Walnut, Calif.
"The kids are devastated," Ceres head coach Carlos Guizar said. "They didn't want the season to end. It's not something we're going to dwell on. This is going to make us stronger. It's going to make us work harder next year.
The Blaze compiled a 1-2 record at the Zone tourney.
"The results are not what we wanted," Guizar said. "I'm not disappointed. Overall, it was a great experience for the boys. They had a blast. I'm proud of my coaching staff and players."
Ceres lost 8-6 to eventual runner-up Hilo in elimination play on July 24.
The Blaze lost 11-1 to Simi Valley on July 23.
Simi Valley won the World Series title at the 8-and-under level in 2015.
Ceres edged out Hart 15-12 on July 22.
Carlos Guizar Jr. led the way on offense, batting 6-for-10 from the plate with three RBIs.
He collected three hits and three RBIs during Ceres' win over Hart.
"The other teams scouted us," Guizar said. "They were prepared for us. We weren't getting the timely hits we needed. You got to have six to seven pitchers playing in a tournament like that. Our defense did well. The teams were awesome over there."
Ceres will compete in the 10-and-under division in 2017.
The Blaze placed first five times this past season.
Ceres claimed titles at the Super Region and Region tournaments on its way to qualifying for Zone.
"The improvement was major," Guizar said. "I didn't expect us to do what we did. It's a big confidence booster. The boys did a wonderful job representing Ceres. They worked hard all year."