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Ceres Blaze travel team dedicates season to coach
The Ceres Blaze 10-and-under travel baseball team compiled a 31-5-2 overall record this season. Ceres placed first at the West Zone-NorCal Northeast Mustang Super Regional Tournament. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Luis Malagon may be gone, but he's not forgotten.

The Ceres Blaze 10-and-under travel baseball team dedicated the 2017 season to Malagon.

Luis, a coach with the Blaze, was fatally wounded in a shooting in Ceres a year ago. He was just 27 years old.

"We had his favorite number (8) with wings on the back of our jerseys and helmets in his remembrance," said Carlos Guizar, Blaze head coach and one of Luis' closest friends. "Our goal was to make it to the World Series for him. We got close."

Ceres finished in third place while competing at the 2017 Pony Baseball West Zone-NorCal Northeast Mustang Zone Tournament this past weekend in Los Alamitos.

William S. Hart secured a berth to the World Series with a 7-4 win over Irvine.

"People were talking about Ceres before the tournament ended," Guizar said. "The boys made a name for themselves. They played great."

The Blaze compiled a 2-2 record.

Both of Ceres' losses were to Irvine.

The Blaze lost 11-1 on Saturday and 7-3 on Friday.

Ceres squandered a 3-0 lead during the first game.

"We played them tough," Guizar said. "We didn't get the timely hits that we needed. Our pitching did awesome. There was a lot of pressure on the kids. There was a lot of talk about going to Louisiana for the World Series. It was hard to see their faces when we got eliminated. Of course we wanted to go further. Overall, we had a great season."

Malagon would have enjoyed watching the Blaze earn a return trip to the Zone Tournament.

The Blaze went 1-2 while competing in the 9-year-old age group last summer.

Host Ceres placed first at the 2017 Super Regionals. The Blaze reeled off six straight wins after dropping their first game at the double-elimination event.

"It was exciting to see them play at that level," Guizar said. "The kids made him (Luis) proud. He knows they never gave up. They played their hearts out."

Ceres had an impressive 31-5-2 overall record in 2017. "I'm not really surprised with what they did this year," Guizar said. "It's a great group of boys. Working with them is a blast. They listen, learn and are coachable. I loved seeing them grow. All of their hard work paid off."