WILSON, N.C. -- Using the small-ball style that earned them the New England regional championship, the Berkshire Force blew open their 2013 16-U Babe Ruth World Series pool-play opener against the Lamar (Colo.) Leaguettes by scoring five runs on just one hit in the fourth inning en route to a 9-2 victory.
"Always small ball, always," Berkshire coach Jim Clary said. "We use baserunning and bunting all the time. We can get the big hits, but today, we didn't need them."
Lamar, the Midwest Plains regional champions, had little success battling both the Force and the sticky eastern North Carolina heat.
Leaguettes starter Demi Ownby had troubles holding on to the ball for much of the game as sweat covered every players' arms, face and hands. She would hit three batters, walk four and give up six singles in allowing eight runs in 3 1/3 innings of work.
She was even called for an illegal pitch after going to the rosin bag and immediately throwing a pitch.
"I felt bad for her," Berkshire pitcher Cat Record said. "I know how hot it was out there. It was tough."
Record got the complete-game victory. She gave up four hits and two runs, while walking three and striking out two. She was also called for an illegal pitch by the home-plate umpire.
The Force took a 3-0 lead in the second inning as Record led off with a bloop single to right. Courtesy runner Acacia Alston went to second on the attempted sacrifice bunt of Mir Voller, but Lamar third baseman Jerika Melgoza threw the ball past first base, and Alston scampered home while Voller went to second. Libby White grounded out to score Voller for a 2-0 lead.
Amanda Ely, Jilly Campbell and Dominique Satrape reached on three singles that got no further than the edge of the infield grass to load the bases.
After a strikeout, Allie Hunt hit a grounder to deep short that was knocked down by Lamar's Malea Orozco, but no out was possible and Ely trotted home.
Lamar cut the lead to 3-1 in the third. After two outs, Jazelle Moreno singled to right and courtesy runner Cheyenne Ready came in. Ready went to second on Ownby's single and scored on Melgoza's single up the middle.
In the fourth, Ownby hit Ely and Campbell to lead off the inning before Satrape reached on bunt single.
From there, Berkshire took advantage of two Lamar errors, three walks and a fielder's choice throw to home plate when there was no force to end up scoring five runs on just one hit.
"Once we get started, we just rally," said Ely, who reached base all four times with a single, hit by pitch, walk and via an error. "We get each other pumped up."
The Force made it 9-1 in the fifth as Nester drove in Olivia Mazzeo with a groundout.
Lamar's last gasp came in the sixth as Brittany Gonzales was hit by a pitch and came around on three wild pitches by Record.
"She was getting tired and with the heat it was tough," Clary said. "But we told her ‘This is your game to finish.' And she went out there and did it."
Up next for Berkshire in the pool play portion of the tournament are two games today -- at 10:30 a.m. vs. Middle Atlantic Region champs Willingboro, N.J., and against host Wilson County at 2:30 p.m.