Out Front After Day 1

Commodores go 4-1, take lead into second day of Northeast Classic

by Rod Williamson

DEPTFORD, N.J. — Vanderbilt seized the first day lead at the Northeast Classic, cruising at times and making crucial shots at others in winning four of its five matches with ranked opponents and racking up big pin counts in the process.

The Commodores began the day at high altitude, blowing out No. 25 Monmouth, fourth-ranked North Carolina A&T and No.19 Sacred Heart, respectively, with powerful scores before botching a lead and coming back to earth against Fairleigh Dickinson.

The day ended with a stirring come-from-behind win over ninth-ranked Mount St. Mary’s.

“We had a really good day that could have been an exceptional day,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “As disappointed as I was after the FDU match – the only one all day we weren’t ourselves – I was equally pleased with the grit and determination we showed against Mount St. Mary’s.

“We were down 45 pins after their big second game and we could have just hung it up and said it had been a good day but we chipped away and chipped away and then made some big shots at the end to win it.”

It was a thrilling college bowling match. Vandy won the first game of the 5-game Baker set by 27 pins but the Mounties posted a 253 to take command by 45 pins. Vandy, moving to the higher scoring left lane, cut the margin to eight pins after three games and then down to three heading into the final game.

The team leading after four games in this Baker format gets lane choice and it was apparent the Mounties enjoyed the left side. Vanderbilt’s rotation of Angelica Anthony, Samantha Gainor, Caroline Thesier, Paige Peters and Mabel Cummins battled from the right lane, strikes flying everywhere as it neared the tense finish.

Peters struck in the ninth against a Mounty spare and it came down to Cummins in the 10th, needing to double and make big count to pull out the victory. The Mount St. Mary’s anchor had completed a strong 236 game, Vandy needing a 241 to tie.

Cummins, who had been dynamite all day, calmly struck once-twice-three times for the win.

“Had we had the option we’d have wanted that left lane,” Williamson said, “but we still made the shots. Paige made a ball change and threw the first shot with it poorly but came back with two strikes. And Mabel wasn’t entirely comfortable with the shot but I hope she realizes we don’t need her to be great all the time, just being Mabel is enough.”

The wild finish overshadowed Vandy’s big win over the talented North Carolina A&T Aggies in the day’s second contest. The Commodores had a stretch of 279-258-217 in coasting to a 1,148-1,027 win.

“When you are scoring well, everyone is contributing,” Williamson said. “We were getting solid and steady play from the top with Angelica and Sam (who had nine strikes in 10 frames against Sacred Heart, for example), a steady middle with Caroline and very good finishes from Paige and Mabel. We actually had several others who looked sharp in the warm-ups but once we got rolling with this unit we stayed with it.”

Vanderbilt carries a 69-pin lead over Youngstown State into Saturday’s play with McKendree and Sam Houston next on the leaderboard. Seven top 10 teams and 17 top 25 teams are in the strong field.

Vanderbilt starts Saturday in the position round, playing No. 2 Youngstown State before moving on to play Duquesne, Long Island, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Delaware State. Five traditional team games begin at 8:30 a.m. CT at the Bowlero Deptford.