SMYRNA, Tenn. - Vanderbilt had a dominating run for nearly two days but a late Saturday hiccup dropped the Commodores into the No. 2 seeded position behind Maryland-Eastern Shore at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic.
The Commodores and the Hawks will square off Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. in a best-of-seven Baker format with the winner gaining an automatic berth in the championship game while the loser will get dropped into another round of games.
Vanderbilt had a seemingly commanding lead of 225 pins after adding Saturday's first four games with yesterday's six Baker matches but that's when things began to unravel. The Commodores faced a Tulane team that frankly didn't pose a big threat and while Vandy prevailed in the game, the anemic winning pin count of 889 allowed UMES to gain over 200 pins, which was then lost in the sixth and final game.
The day's sixth game for Vandy also spoiled its undefeated status as a St. Francis College team that stood 15th in the pin fall count but had managed to win all but two of its game pulled the upset, winning 1,010-983.
While there was no great harm done in losing the No. 1 seed since the top two face each other anyway, the sputtering ending left the `Dores with a sour taste.
"I thought it was a decent day until that fifth game took away our momentum and we couldn't really find it back," said sophomore Natalie Goodman. "We had some good things individually during the day; I thought Tori started out great and both Robyn and Jess had some big games that were essential. But I'm a little disappointed because we fought so hard all day and to lose that last game when we were trying to go unbeaten for the seniors was kind of hard to take."
Arkansas State finished the two long days in third place and No. 1 rated Nebraska was fourth, just ahead of hard-charging Fairleigh Dickinson to complete the top end of the title bracket and making for a foursome of NCAA bowling heavyweights.
Central Missouri's Natalie Jimenez won the individual championship. The all-tournament team will be announced at the completion of the tournament. Vanderbilt's pin leader was Jessica Earnest, who placed eighth.
Action gets underway at 8:30 a.m. and is being streamed by bowl.com.
Vandy game capsules
VU 946 Adelphi 926
It was nip and tuck all the way. Vandy was using a lineup of Earnest, Fry, Ferris, Goodman and Renslow versus the 14th rated Panthers. Overcoming 10 opens during the game, it boiled down to the 10th frame where Earnest's strike out was helpful; the anchors settled things with Renslow meeting the challenge with three strikes.
VU 1,091 New Jersey City 899 Vandy used the same lineup, got revved up early and was able to put away the Gothic Knights to stay unbeaten. Renslow put on a dazzling show, going strike, spare and then ran off eight in a row. Plenty of help from her teammates in what was the second round's highest score.
VU 1,038 St. Francis Univ. 833 Jessica Earnest notched what is believed to be her best Vanderbilt game to date, a 278 that had a spare in the fifth and a 9-ball on her last throw. Renslow had a temporary lapse with three opens to account for her 181.
VU 1,056 Sacred Heart 983 The Commodores continue to show great balance. Renslow's 239 was deceptively low as she had the front five, then opened on a split and then struck into the tenth. Fry's 220 was her best of the day. The Pioneers' 983 was good enough to beat many teams here. As a team, VU is leading the tournament by 225 pins over UMES.
VU 889 Tulane 856 It looked as though the `Dores either lost energy or focus but luckily Tulane's relatively new program wasn't able to capitalize on the lull. The modest score brought Vandy closer to the pack in total pin fall.
St. Francis College 1,010 VU 983 The Commodores rebounded from its fifth game slumber but an inspired St. Francis College team that had quietly won all but two of its tournament games handed VU its first setback. It was a tight game that was not decided until the red hot Terrier anchor iced it in the 10th. Vanderbilt made its only substitution of the day in this game, inserting Carper for Ferris in the three slot.