Perfect game on final day leads Maryland-Eastern Shore to Kutztown win
READING, Pa. - Maryland-Eastern Shore captured another first-place finish Sunday, winning its second consecutive Kutztown Golden Bear Invitational Title, besting Vanderbilt in the finals 4-1.
Along the way they shot a perfect 300 in the first match of the day, it is just the second time in school history the Hawks have shot a perfect 300 game in Baker play.
The Hawks, who dominated the tournament from start to finish, opened the day as the number one seed, facing the second-seeded Commodores from Vanderbilt. UMES jumped out to a one game lead with a 246-189 win but Vandy rebounded to even the match at two with a 233-197 win. Then it happened, the Hawks were perfect, shooting 300 and collecting all 12 strikes and besting Vandy's 166. The perfect five line-up was: Kristie Lopez (Ponce, Puerto Rico), Valentina Collazos (Cali, Colombia), Mariana Alvarado (Leon, Mexico), Anggie Ramirez (Bogota, Colombia) and T'nia Falbo (Greensburg, Pa.). With a perfect game and 2-1 lead you would think UMES was cruising toward the finals, but the Commodores won the next three games 234-214, 188-170 and 225-201 for the 4-2 win.
It was the first loss of the tournament for UMES and the emotional roller coaster from 300 to a loss sent them searching for an answer. They would have to find it against Norfolk State, the four-seed, who topped Wisconsin-Whitewater in the three vs. four match-up.
It was a struggle getting it back together and head coach Kristina Frahm juggled her line-up. Lopez went out, Collazos went to lead-off and Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.) entered. It wasn't long before Tatiana Munoz (Ibague Tolima, Colombia) replaced Collazos, but the shuffling worked. After Norfolk took a 2-0 lead (224-177, 186-167), UMES would find their line and take a 3-2 lead (241-176, 277-235, 239-186). Norfolk rebounded to win game six 194-181 to tie it up and set the stage for Game 7. The Hawks then edged it out 201-194 to set-up the rematch with Vandy.
"It was a close match" said Frahm. "Norfolk bowled well, and I think we all panicked a little after the first loss, but we got it together enough to advance and that is what mattered."
In the final rematch Munoz, Buja, Alvarado, Ramirez and Falbo kept up the momentum, taking a 217-190 win in the first game before allowing Vandy to tie it up with a 231-177 win in game two. Then it was all Hawks. UMES cruised to three straight wins, 238-204, 223-203, 200-183 and taking the 4-1 win and the tournament title.
"It is a great feeling to come to the nation's largest tournament and lead the entire way," said Frahm. "It is a good confidence booster heading to Texas where we will see some teams that we don't normally bowl."
With the wins, UMES finishes the tournament 14-1 and improved their overall record to 52-8. They have now led the field 11 of the 12 days they have bowled so far this season.
Sacred Heart (12-3) and Vanderbilt (11-4) were the only two other teams to earn more than 10 wins in the event. They finished third and second respectively. Norfolk State was fourth with a solid tournament, while St. Francis (Pa.) rounded out the top five.
Wisconsin-Whitewater, Kutztown, Stephen F. Austin, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth rounded out the top 10. Fellow MEAC schools Delaware State, Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina Central, Florida A&M, Coppin State, Howard and Morgan State were 13th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 25th respectively.