The Sacred Heart University bowling team defeated Caldwell University 2-1 in the NCAA Opening Round in Millsboro, Del., Saturday afternoon. The victory propels the Pioneers to Cleveland and an NCAA Championship quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Vanderbilt on Thursday, April 11.
The Pioneers had three bowlers average over 200 pins per ten frames. Rachel Bamford averaged 220.7 pins, Alyssa Klassert averaged 210 and Colby Jones rounded out the group after averaging 202.9 pins. Bamford and Klassert led the competition with a 55% strike percentage and were perfect with 100% single pin spares.
The Pioneers won the traditional team portion, 945-852 to take the 1-0 lead. Caldwell answered in the quint baker, rallying for an 895-881 victory to force the Best-of-7 baker to decide the winner. SHU swept the third portion of the mega match to earn the win.
The Pioneers opened the competition with the traditional team portion of the three-part mega match. The line-up of Tori Boughton, Julia Favata, Alyssa Klassert, Colby Jones and Rachel Bamford started with five perfect strikes which led to 16 out of 20 strikes through four games to take over a hundred pin lead. Bamford finished with eight strikes in 11 attempts and bowled a 257 to lead the Pioneers to the 945-852 win.
The second format was 5-game baker total pinfall. THe starting lineup was Colby Jones, Alyssa Klassert, Caitlyn Kelly, Tori Boughton and Rachel Bamford. SHU took the early lead 185-183 in game one then increased the lead to 25 pins after 178-155 in game 2. Colby Jones and Alyssa Klassert were stellar with strikes or nine spares. Two opens by Sacred Heart ended up with 191 to Calwell's 201 to shrink the lead to 15. SHU had a solid start in game 3 then ended with 3 opens for 167 with Caldwell shooting 181 to make it a near even match after 4 games. Game 5 was ugly due to poor shot making. Caldwell's 175 was enough for the 895-881 win to tie the match 1-1.
SHU got off to a strong start in the quint baker as well, winning the first two rounds 185-183 and 178-155, holding a 25-pin advantage. Caldwell sliced 10 pins off in winning the third 201-191, followed by a 181-167 victory to pull within a pin of SHU's total after four. Caldwell closed with a 175 to pull out the 895-881 victory over SHU in the fifth round to tie the match at 1-1.
The match came down to the best-of-7 baker game. SHU inserted senior Rebecca Armand back into the lineup along with Boughton, Klassert, Jones and Bamford. The first game included many opens by both teams but SHU won 168-150. The Pioneers settled into the pocket to win game two 191-163 for a 2-0 lead and took a 3-0 lead after Boughton, Jones and Bamford struck in the eighth, ninth and tenth frames to secure game 3 236-215. The momentum carried into game 4 when SHU tossed its first clean game of the day with nine strikes and three spares to convincingly take game four 255-198. The 4-0 win secured a 2-1 win and a sixth trip to the final NCAA Championship in program-history.
The Pioneers advance to the quarterfinals of the National Collegiate Bowling Championship, hosted at Rollhouse Wickliffe in Cleveland, April 11-13. SHU begins play against Vanderbilt, the top-seed. That portion of the championship will be a double-elimination, with each round consisting of the same mega match used in the opening round and the NEC Tournament. The champion will be determined using a best-of-seven baker match play and that match airs on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. on April 13.
NCAA Opening Round
Traditional Team Round
Bamford led all bowlers with a 257.
Quint Baker Round
Caldwell- 175 SHU-160
Best-of-7 Baker Round (Tiebreaker)
SHU-255 Caldwell- 198