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Ceres Blaze 12s bring home title from Nebraska
The Ceres Blaze 12-and-under travel baseball team collected five wins, no losses and one tie en route to a first-place finish at the Battle of Omaha Tournament this past week in Nebraska. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Head coach Antone Lopez held a team meeting following the Ceres Blaze 12-and-under travel baseball squad's lackluster performance during the first day of the Battle of Omaha Tournament on June 15 in Nebraska.

Ceres managed to win and tie once despite committing eight errors.

"We played as bad as we could have played," Lopez said. "It was unreal. We could have been jetlagged. We weren't used to the time change and weather. We got lucky. Their focus changed the next day. We started wowing people."

The Blaze won their final four games en route to claiming the Battle of Omaha title.

Ceres was awarded the second seed after collecting two wins and one tie in Pool A.

The Blaze run-ruled three of their six opponents.

"They knew what they were there for," Lopez said. "They played without any fear. The talent gap between us and everyone else was glaring."

Ceres improved its overall record to 26-6-1.

The Blaze accomplished a first in organization history last month by finishing in first place at the Irvine Pony Memorial Day Invitational.

Ceres posted a team batting average of .409 with three home runs and 10 doubles at the Battle of Omaha tourney.

The Blaze outscored their opponents, 50-16.

Javier Guerrero batted .643 from the plate.

Aiden Taylor batted .571 with two homers and nine RBIs.

Josh Prestridge batted .389 with four doubles and nine RBIs.

Joel Roberts batted .385 with one homer and six RBIs.

Jadon Aguilar batted .313.

Ceres' pitching staff posted a 0.41 earned-run average with 36 strikeouts.

Aguilar compiled a perfect 3-0 record.

Lopez finished 2-0 with eight strikeouts.

Guerrero went 1-0 on the mound. Javier totaled 10 strikeouts.

"It was crazy to do what we did," coach Lopez said. "Most of the games weren't close. We were getting contributions from everyone."

The Blaze beat the Austin Renegades by the mercy rule, 11-3, in the championship game on June 17.

Taylor homered.

Aguilar was the winning pitcher.

He allowed no runs with three strikeouts in two innings.

"A lot of people back home got the news right away because of social media," Lopez said.

Ceres defeated the Omaha Tigers Black 7-3 in the semifinals on June 17.

Roberts' first home run of the season, a two-run blast, gave the Blaze a four-run lead in the fifth inning.

"The game was in doubt," Antone Lopez said. "That was the cushion we needed."

Taylor also belted a homer.

Lopez was the winning pitcher.

He had five strikeouts in four innings.

The Blaze opened the tournament with a 6-5 victory over Omaha on June 15.

Ceres also collected wins against Quad City Hitmen Premier (12-0) and Plover Nationals (10-1).

The Blaze and Kansas Cannons batted to a 4-4 tie.
Lopez's coaching staff consists of Kelly Wheelock, Yo Aguilar and Josh Estermann.

The Battle of Omaha tourney featured 14 teams and was staged during the NCAA Division-I College World Series.

Ceres will play at home in the George Costa Tournament this week.