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LAS VEGAS — Vanderbilt went unbeaten for the second straight day Saturday, posting powerful scores along the way, and as a result punched its ticket into Sunday’s championship bracket at the Stormin’ Blue & Gold Vegas Classic.
The Commodores earned the No. 2 seed will meet top seed McKendree in Sunday’s first round of best-of-seven Baker games. The winner will get an automatic berth in the title match.
Third seed Nebraska and No. 4 Tulane will square off on the other side. Play begins at 10 a.m. CT.
Vanderbilt knocked off four foes – unranked Grambling, 13th-ranked Mount Saint Mary’s, eighth-ranked Stephen F. Austin and 16th-rated Tulane before concluding the day with a bye match.
But the fun is in the details.
“I thought today was a good follow up to our Friday play,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “Adel (Wahner) and Sam (Gainor) were on fire at the top and you can take a lot of pressure off the rest of your rotation when the top is performing that well.”
Wahner, who was tied for third earlier in the week at the United States Amateur, had a sensational day by notching scores of 236-213-278-214-254 for a 239.8 average (third best in Vandy’s all-time record book) and Gainor was not far behind with a 231 average that included a career high 279. Wahner was second in the final individual standings and Gainor was fifth.
Alexis Neuer of Delaware State won it with a 242.2 average.
Riding the same Vegas rotation of Wahner, Gainor, Angelique Dalesandro, Mabel Cummins and Maria Bulanova, Vandy knocked down 1,200 pins against host Mount Saint Mary’s. That 1,200 represents the second-best team game in school history, trailing only a 1,236 that happened during the 2015-16 season in the New Jersey Jamboree against Saint Peter’s.
There are a lot of big numbers required to total 1,200 and Gainor had the biggest – a Vanderbilt career-high 279. Bulanova’s nifty 249 was next and Wahner’s 213 was actually her lowest score of the day.
“I was actually most impressed today with our follow-up to the 1,200 game,” Williamson said. “Sometimes there is a natural letdown after a big game but we weren’t satisfied with that score and continued to focus and execute the rest of the day.”
Vanderbilt wasn’t finished knocking down wood after its big effort. Minutes later it continued the assault, this time on eighth-ranked Stephen F. Austin.
Wahner led the way with a near replica of Gainor’s prior game starting with the front seven, leaving a 10-pin in the eighth and nearly going off the sheet to post a 278, her collegiate best. Vandy won going away 1,157-1,005.
Tulane was another matter. The Green Wave started red-hot, posting 10 strikes over the first two frames and Vandy played from behind most of the way. The dangerous Commodores stayed close enough that several Tulane opens created a tense 10th frame.
The top of the rotation contributed strikes (Gainor had a 248) and Cummins virtually nailed the win by striking out. The final 1,090-1,076 reflected how well the game was played.
“We were methodical against Tulane,” Williamson said, noting that the Green Wave threw 15 strikes in their first 20 frames. “We were able to maintain contact with them when they were striking and that was nice to see. We felt we could catch them by focusing on what we could control.”
In the bye game, Wahner and Gainor carried the load. Wahner had a 254, Gainor a 212 to help get Vanderbilt over the 1,000 mark for the fifth time during the day – 1,021 the final.
All games Sunday will live streamed on flobowling.com.