PITTSFIELD - It wasn't until the penultimate game of the Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series that the team from Madison County, N.C., lost a game this summer. They weren't going to let that happen twice.
Pitcher Sam Gosnell, who gave up seven runs to Lodi, Calif., in the first game, came back to throw a complete game four-hitter as Madison County claimed the World Series title with a 5-2 win Monday night at the Doyle Complex.
"It's crazy. It feels so good," said Madison County center fielder Hannah Anders, who scored what proved to be the game-winning run in a five-run fifth inning. "We came [to the World Series] a couple of years before and we wanted to achieve our goal."
Anders was 5 for 7 in Monday's doubleheader with four runs scored.
Gosnell, the Series' Most Outstanding Player, retired 10 consecutive Lodi batters at one point in the game and did not give up a hit after Lodi's Allisa Yabumoto reached on a bunt single in the fourth inning.
"It's a journey. As we started out, we knew it would be work and work and work," said Gosnell. "We got what we deserved."
The tournament needed the "if" game because Lodi scored an 8-5 win in the first game of what turned out to be a championship series.
"[The loss] fired us us. It fired us up," said Gosnell. "It gave us the will to win, no doubt about it."
Gosnell and third baseman Alexis Nix were named to the All-World Series team. Lodi second baseman Veronica Smith and center fielder Jamie Lewis were also named to the All-World Series team.
The win by Madison County marked the fifth consecutive summer that a North Carolina team had won this World Series title. Lodi was seeking its first title since taking home the trophy in the 2008 World Series, which was also played at the Doyle Complex.
"I think everyone realized Madison County was the team to beat. They were a notch above everybody else," Lodi coach Harvey Casillas said. "I don't think anybody thought they could be beat. We did our best to tell the girls that it could be done. We took it one game at a time."
Alyssa Casillas and Gosnell matched zeroes over the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Lodi struck.
Danielle Pfennig led off with a single and took second when Yabumoto beat out a bunt attempt. With runners on second and third, Lewis hit a one-out grounder to second that scored Pfennig from third. Samantha Amarante struck out with Yabumoto on third.
For the next two innings, Gosnell set the side down in order, which left an opening for Madison County to break through.
In the top of the fifth, Madison County parlayed five hits, two errors and a hit batter into five runs. Lexi Ammons drove in a run with a single. Sam Harwood hit the first pitch she saw to the warning track in left, but Shelby Featherston ran the ball down to save runs. Two pitches later, Baylea Loven doubled inside the line in left, plating two.
Anders said she and her teammates were able to reset after the loss, and she pointed to the stands to pass along some credit.
"You have to stay up, and I'm so thankful for these people right here," she said. "The crowd, they were awesome for us tonight. I'm so thankful for those guys. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have been as pumped up."
Lodi didn't go down without trying to land one final punch in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Lauren Garouette was hit by a pitch, got to third on an error by Hannah Jennings and eventually scored on a wild pitch. But Adrianna Munguia looked at strike three and Madison County was the champion.
In the first game, Lodi broke open a 4-4 tie with three runs on two hits in the fifth inning. Yabamoto's two-run single to right was the key hit in the inning. Featherston's RBI single in the sixth made it 8-4.
Madison County scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Harwood lined into a game-ending double play that forced the "if" game.
Pfennig got the win with seven innings of relief for Casillas, who faced only three hitters in the first inning.
"We had confidence we'd hit the ball. We'd hit the ball the whole tournament," Madison County coach Jeff Loven said. "We didn't hit the ball that well the first game. We felt like we'd come back out and hit the ball."