The Ceres Blaze 10-year-old travel baseball team and Tara Hills battled each other and triple-digit heat while facing off in the finals of the Pony Baseball West Zone-NorCal Mustang Super Region Tournament.
The Blaze cut a 10-run deficit to three before losing 15-12 to Tara Hills on July 25 at George Costa Ball Field Complex in Ceres.
Ceres had to settle for runner-up honors.
Tara Hills moved one step closer to qualifying for the World Series as it secured a berth to the Zone Championships.
"It hurts seeing the kids cry," Blaze head coach Jorge Guerrero said.
Ceres compiled a 1-2 record against Tara Hills at Super Regionals.
Tara Hills forced the winner-take-all game by edging out Ceres 10-7 on July 24.
Ceres earned a hard-fought 8-6 win against Tara Hills on July 23.
"That was a really, good team in front of us," Guerrero said. "They were smashing the ball."
On the verge of losing by mercy rule to Tara Hills in the championship game, Ceres rallied during the final two innings.
"Even though we fell short, I'm still proud of the kids," Guerrero said. "They didn't give up."
Down 15-5, the Blaze scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and two in the fifth to make the contest interesting.
Ceres brought the potential, tying run to the plate with two outs in the final inning. The Blaze stranded runners at second and third base to end the game.
"We had some good at bats," Guerrero said. "Things started going our way. It was exciting. The crowd was yelling. It was really tense."
Ceres shut out Rocklin 12-0 in the first round of the tournament on July 21.
The Blaze beat the Golden Eagles 11-7 on July 22.
Ceres posted a 40-13-1 overall record this year.
"It's hard to compare seasons," Guerrero said. "This one ranks up there. The kids had fun."
The Blaze won four titles and placed second once.
"We knew going into the season we were going to be a good team," Guerrero said. "They met my expectations. All of the kids improved. That's an achievement."