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CHAMPIONS: Wilmington Captures First ECC Bowling Tournament Title

Photo courtesy of Casey Rafferty, East Coast Conference.
Photo courtesy of Casey Rafferty, East Coast Conference.

CORAM, N.Y. - - For the first time since its inception with the 2016-17 season, the Wilmington University bowling team has been crowned East Coast Conference Tournament Champions on Sunday, defeating Adelphi, 2-0, in the mega match format at Coram Country Lanes.

With the win, the Wildcats earn the ECC's automatic bid in to the 2022 NCAA National Collegiate Bowling Championship on April 15-16 at the Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio.

Once the Wildcats reached the ECC Tournament Final, they were on a roll and cruised past Adelphi in the mega match format, winning the Traditional Match, 1,091-992, and then claiming the championship with a 1,099-1,023 win in the Baker Match.

But the Wildcats needed to earn a spot in the final on Sunday morning, and that proved to be a fight that came down to the last game against Bloomfield.

In the Baker Bracket best of seven, the match went back-and-forth with each team winning games. The Wildcats won game one, 173-171, but the Bears fought back and won game two, 192-170. The Wildcats could never get more than one game ahead of the Bears, as they knotted the game, 3-3, with a 201-181 win in game six.

In the second half of game seven, Sydney Jones bowled a strike in the 6th frame. KC Miller completed the 7th with a spare and then CC Riojas and Malia Stout put some distance between the Bears with strikes in the 8th and 9th frames. Bloomfield could only answer with a spare in the 8th and left the 9th frame open. After starting the 10th with knocking eight pins down, Rachel hirst only needed to one pin to close out the Bears, as she completed the spare for the win, 192-170, and the match, 4-3.

Now already warmed up, the Wildcats went into the Traditional Match against Adelphi with confidence. Sydney Jones finished with five strikes, two of which came in the 10th frame to finish strong with a 183 in the first slot.

CC Riojas closed every frame in the Traditional Match, finishing with seven strikes, including three straight in the middle of the match, and she finished with a 219. KC Miller closed out strong as well, having three straight strikes between the 9th and 10th frames, going from a 122 in the 8th frame to a 179 at the finish.

Malia Stout started the best for the Wildcats, capped a string of six straight strikes and had a score of 186 in the 7th frame. She had a strike in the 9th and closed out the 10th with a strike and spare, finishing with a 243.

Rachel Hirst had the best game of anyone in the final, finishing with nine strikes, including seven straight from frames 4-10. She finished off her game with a spare, ending with a match high 267.

The Wildcats won the Traditional Match, 1,091-992, to go ahead, 1-0, in the Mega Match.

Needing a win in the Baker Match to stay alive, Adelphi started strong with a 237-220 win in the first game. But the Wildcats fought back in the second with a 221-178 win in game two, overtaking the lead and never looked back, 441-415. Adelphi took the third game, but by only five pins, 224-219, as the Wildcats still led, 660-639.

The difference in the match came in the fourth game, following a fault by KC Miller in the 8th frame with the Wildcats trailing, 155-123. Instead of buckling, Miller held together and earned the tough spare, knocking all 10 pins down with her second roll. The huge recovery seemed to propel the Wildcats, as Malia Stout followed with a strike in the 9th, and Rachel Hirst picked up a spare and a 9-pin in the 10th to lead the Wildcats back to a 181-173. The Wildcats led by 31 pints going into the fifth game of the Baker Match.

Game five was all Wilmington, as they slammed the door shut with eight strikes in the game, and could roll a couple victory balls in the 10th frame to close out the game. They won the fifth game, 257-212, to win the match, 1,099-1,023, and win the Championship, 2-0.