WICKLIFFE, OH—Vanderbilt could not overcome a double dose of lukewarm shooting and an upset-minded Sacred Heart team in the opening round of the NCAA Bowling Championship Thursday morning, losing to the Pioneers 4-1 in the best of seven Baker games after the two teams split the traditional and 5-Game Baker matches.
The loss drops the No. 1 seeded Commodores into the afternoon elimination bracket, where they will face Arkansas State, which lost 2-0 to Nebraska in its opening game. That match is set for 2:00 p.m. CT and is live streamed on ncaa.com.
Vanderbilt got off to an early lead in the opening traditional game but Sacred Heart caught fire about the third frame and gradually began protecting a precarioius lead that ranged from seven to 26 pins throughout much of the game. The final score, 1,027-968, was a bit misleading as the Pioneers blew the game open in the 10th frame. Vanderbilt’s Maria Bulanova was solid with a 239 and Samantha Gainor added a 207 but not enough to offset Sacred Heart’s Rebecca Armand’s excellent 245 and the continued striking of Pioneer anchor Rachel Bamford.
With the Commodores needing to win the 5-Game Baker match to stay alive., they modified their lineup inserting Emily Rigney for Newham. The junior lefty added an immediate spark with eight strikes in her 10 frames. The match – which is decided by total pinfall over the five games – was back and forth throughout before Vanderbilt prevailed by an uncomfortable 10 pins, 1,037-1,027. That set up the best of seven to determine the winner.
Vanderbilt won the first game and just when it appeared that season-long form might prevail, Sacred Heart roared back to win the next four games.
(Editor’s Note: A more detailed account will be posted this evening after Round 2)