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Blaze, Sizzle teams claim championships
Blaze Xpress
The Ceres Blaze 9-and-under travel baseball team finished first overall at the CenCal Xpress Octoberfest.

The Ceres Blaze 11-and-under travel baseball team had a memorable debut while competing at the NCS Fall Brawl Tournament, Sept. 10-11, in Elk Grove.

“It was our first 11U tournament and half my roster is nine going on 10,” head coach David Rubio said. “The kids definitely exceeded my expectations. We won the championship. Pitching was key. We were clicking on offense.”

The Blaze won all four of their games.

Brayden Toste was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

He batted 8-for-8 from the plate with one homer, six RBIs and six runs.

Toste allowed no hits with three strikeouts and one walk on the mound.

“He’s one of our ace pitchers as well,” Rubio said. 

Top-seeded Ceres bested Granite City Gold 9-5 in the championship game on Sept. 11.

Jionni Lawrence was the winning pitcher.

He gave up one run in four innings.

“He was dominant,” Rubio said. 

Lawrence, Toste, Chase Matulis and Colton Mahaney led the way on offense.

“They were phenomenal all weekend,” Rubio said. 

Ceres routed the NorCal Vipers 12-1 in the semifinals on Sept. 11.

The Blaze went 2-0 in seeding play on Sept. 10.

Ceres opened the Fall Brawl with a 10-2 win over Granite City Gold.

The Blaze coasted to a 12-1 victory against the NorCal Vipers.

“I’m really excited to see their hard work pay off,” Rubio said. “I’m proud of them.”

Ceres’ roster features 13 players, including Toste, Lawrence, Matulis, Mahaney, Leon Huerta, Christian Rubio, Liam Stamper, Nico Rojas, Elijah Sosa, Joe O’Brien, Gio Garibay, Lorenzo Beltran and Myles Guernsey.

Toste, Lawrence, Matulis, Mahaney, Huerta, Rojas, Sosa, Garibay, Guernsey, Christian Rubio and Liam Stamper helped lead the Blaze to a 23-7 record in the 10-and-under age group this past season. Ceres advanced to the July 21-22 Pony West Zone Tournament, where it lost a pair of games by a combined three runs. The Blaze finished in first place at the Pony Super Regional Tournament July 12-18 at Costa Fields.

“This team has the potential to be great,” coach Rubio said. 

Ceres will play in the Buchanan Elite Tournament, Oct. 1-2, in Clovis.

Blaze 9s take first

The Ceres Blaze 9-and-under competitive baseball team took first in the Silver Bracket of the CenCal Xpress Octoberfest, staged Sept. 10-11, in Farmersville.

“It’s surprising because it’s our first fall tournament,” head coach Jesus Guzman said. “I wasn’t expecting much from the kids. I wanted them to get their feet wet. Only one of the kids has played travel ball before. The rest are from rec.”

Ceres compiled a 2-2 record in triple-digit heat.

Anthony Vera, Buddy Oliveros, David Guzman, Hunter Barcellos, Jaiden Wright, Jaxson Pires, Jayden Velasquez, Julian Cardenas, Mason Jimenez, Malachy Guzman, Noah Domingos, Parker Domingos, Ryder Hanzal and William Ochoa all contributed.

The Blaze won both of their games in the bracket play on Sept 11.

“It was a great overall team effort,” Guzman said. “Collectively, they did a great job.”

Third-seeded Ceres exacted revenge with a 10-6 victory over Dinuba in the finals.

“Our kids were very disciplined at the plate,” Guzman said. “Our pitching was great. Our defense made a big difference.”

Pires and Malachy Guzman logged playing time at pitcher.

Pires started. 

He gave up two runs and two hits with four strikeouts in three innings while earning the win.

Guzman had four strikeouts in two innings of relief. He allowed three runs and one hit.

Guzman also helped his own cause by batting 2-for-3 from the plate with two runs and two steals.

Barcellos batted 2-for-2 with one RBI and two runs.

Cardenas batted 1-for-2 with one RBI and two steals.

Noah Domingos batted 1-for-1 with one run and three steals.

The Blaze totaled eight stolen bases.

Centerfielder David Guzman made the play of the game on defense.

He prevented Dinuba from cutting the deficit to one run with a diving catch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“That was a key play for us,” coach Guzman said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Ceres topped Triples Alley (Tulare) 16-3 in the semifinals.

The Blaze went 0-2 in pool play on Sept. 10.

Ceres lost its opener, 11-7, to Dinuba.

The Blaze dropped their second game, 11-8, to Bullard Hardball Academy.

Oliveros played catcher during the course of the tournament.

“He was a trooper back there,” coach Guzman said. 

Sizzle win second title 

The Ceres Sizzle 14-and-under travel softball team claimed another fall championship.

Ceres took first in the Gold Bracket of the AST Swing 4 The Fences Tournament, Sept. 24-25, at Manteca’s Big League Dreams Sports Park.

The Sizzle won the AST Queen of the Hill Silver Division title, Sept. 1-2, in Sacramento.

“Things are starting to click,” head coach Nikole Ferrel said.

Ceres won five of six games in Manteca.

The Sizzle posted a 3-0 record in bracket play.

Second-seeded Ceres avenged a one-run loss with a 5-0 victory over top-seeded 510 Pride in the finals on Sept. 25.

“The girls were excited to play that team,” Ferrel said. “They were motivated. They wanted a different outcome. Our defense was really solid. Anything they put in play, we fielded.”

Sizzle pitcher Selina Luiz allowed just two hits with three strikeouts during the championship game.

“She’s really starting to find her confidence,” Ferrel said. “She really trusts her teammates.”

Ceres had a host of contributors on offense.

Nat Corella collected two singles, two RBIs and one run.

Gaby Ortiz and Amaia Ferrel both had one single, one RBI and one run.

Des Sorci had one double and one run.

Bella Bravo had one single and one run.

Tatiana Ortiz singled twice.

The Sizzle defeated the CenCal Angels 5-2 in the semifinals on Sept. 25.

Ceres rolled to a 9-1 win against the DSA Valley Dogs in the quarterfinals on Sept. 25.

The Sizzle went 2-1 in pool play on Sept. 24.

Ceres bested the Express (3-2) and Santa Cruz Hawks (7-2).

The Sizzle suffered their lone loss, a 2-1 setback, while battling the 510 Pride.

“The girls are hitting a lot better and our defense is playing really solid right now,” coach Ferrel said.

Ceres improved to 8-4 on the season.

“They’ve been working really hard,” Nikole Ferrel said. “They’re starting to believe in themselves and find their confidence. They enjoy being around each other and are excited to be playing softball together.”

NCS Fall Brawl Tournament ceres
The Ceres Blaze 11-and-under travel baseball team took first at the NCS Fall Brawl Tournament.