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Blaze reach semifinals of West Zone Championships
The Ceres Blaze 14-and-under baseball team concluded its summer season with a top-four finish at the Pony West Zone Championships this past week in West Hills. Ceres claimed Super Regional and Regional titles this season.

The Ceres Blaze played to their potential while participating  for the first time in the 14-and-under bracket of the Pony Baseball West Zone Championships this past week in West Hills.

Undermanned and exhausted, the Blaze advanced to the semifinals.

Ceres competed with a 10-player roster.

“We got as far as we possibly could, especially for how young we were,” head coach Antone Lopez said. “Our team is made up of mainly 13 year olds. You could tell the difference.”

The Blaze won two of four games en route to a top-four finish.

“All the kids left everything they had out there. They couldn’t give no more.”
Coach Antone Lopez

“It’s not disappointing at all,” Lopez said. “All the kids left everything they had out there. They couldn’t give no more.” 

Runner-up Tecolote (San Diego) knocked Ceres out of the eight-team tournament with an 8-5 victory on Saturday.

The Blaze dominated early by scoring four runs in the first inning and one in the second.

“We needed to beat them twice to advance to the finals,” Lopez said. “We had a 5-0 lead. They came back. We ran out of energy. They were bigger and stronger than us.”

The Blaze won back-to-back games to avoid elimination.

Ceres defeated host West Hills (Santa Monica) 10-4 on Saturday.

Ceres shut out South Valley (Arizona) 6-0 on Friday.

“They were focused,” Lopez said. 

The Blaze dropped their opener, 4-0, to Tecolote on Thursday.

“I thought we had a good chance to beat them,” Lopez said. “They’re good. I tip my cap to them.”

Games from the West Zone Championships were live streamed on

“Everybody was watching from back home,” Lopez said.

Blaze players followed an itinerary during the course of the tournament.

They ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

They bowled and played video games.

They also roomed together.

“It was a great experience for our boys,” Lopez said. “Nobody broke any rules. We had a good group of kids that were very respectful.”

The Sizzle compiled an 18-5 record this summer.

Ceres advanced to the West Zone Championships after claiming East Regional and Super Regional titles.

“It was a long road,” Lopez said. “We were two steps away from the World Series. We were right there. I’m happy we got this far. We put this team together for this run.”