The Pony Division championship game at the First Annual Toys for Tots Baseball Tournament in Ceres was decided by just one run.
The second-seeded Ceres Blaze 16-year-old team earned a narrow 2-1 victory against the top-seeded CC Rockers on Nov. 3 at the George Costa Ball Field Complex.
“It was pretty intense,” Blaze head coach Antone Lopez said. “A lot of people were there watching because all of the other games ended. It was high-level baseball. It was a battle. His (Jimbo Pernetti’s) team is good.”
Down 1-0 in the top of the sixth inning, Ceres grabbed a 2-1 lead when Cortez Rush’s two-out, bases-loaded single to left field scored Josh Prestridge and Ryan Estermann.
“It was a clean hit,” coach Lopez said.
Blaze ace pitcher Gabrial Lopez tossed a complete game.
He allowed five hits with eight strikeouts over seven innings.
He got out of a jam in the final inning.
He registered back-to-back strikeouts and induced a game-ending groundout to second.
The CC Rockers’ first two batters reached base.
“He (Gabrial) was able to keep his pitch count down and finish the game,” Antone Lopez said. “He was efficient. He was lights out the whole day.”
Ceres avenged a 6-1 loss suffered in pool play.
The Blaze compiled a 3-1 record at the Toys for Tots Tournament.
Ceres routed third-seeded Lodi Baseball Association 10-0 in the semifinals on Nov. 3.
The Blaze opened the tournament with a 6-2 win over Lodi in pool play on Nov. 2.
Ceres dropped its second game to the CC Rockers.
The Ceres Blaze 11-year-old travel baseball team placed first while competing in the 12-and-under bracket.
The Ceres Youth Baseball Organization hosted the Nov. 2-3 event at George Costa Ball Field Complex.
The Blaze compiled a perfect 4-0 record.
“The boys maintained their focus,” head coach Gerardo Hernandez said. “They executed. That was the biggest thing.”
Top-seeded Ceres defeated second-seeded Riverbank United 5-1 for the championship on Nov. 3.
The Olivas brothers, Marcus and Andruw, turned in dominant performances on the mound.
Marcus was the winning pitcher.
He retired eight batters by strikeout in five innings.
“He’s used to being in big situations,” Hernandez said. “He was moving the ball up and down, and side to side. He kept them off-balance.”
Andruw picked up the save in relief.
“He struck out the side,” Hernandez said. “They couldn’t touch him.”
Ceres totaled seven hits versus Riverbank United.
Marcus Olivas batted 2-for-2.
Carter Hernandez finished 2-for-3.
Two Ceres youth travel baseball teams faced off for the championship in the 10-and-under bracket.
The Chuck Weeks-led Ceres Sandlot squad topped the Ceres Blaze 9-year-old squad 7-4 in the finals on Nov. 3.
The Sandlot won both of their games in pool play on Nov. 2.
The Sandlot defeated the Ceres Blaze (9-2) and Modesto Cruisers (17-2).