PORTLAND, Maine (July 18, 2019) – The Portland Lumberjacks overwhelmed L.A. X in four consecutive games Wednesday night at Bayside Bowl to win its first PBA League Elias Cup in the event’s seven-year history.
Led by anchor bowler and Mark Roth PBA League Most Valuable Player Wes Malott, the hometown favorites trailed only once – in the first two frames of the second game – in dominating the PBA’s team competition. Malott’s supporting cast included PBA League newcomer Kris Prather, who won the inaugural PBA Playoffs at Bayside Bowl in early June; two-hander Kyle Troup, left-hander Ryan Ciminelli and Canadian Mitch Hupé.
“That was awesome,” Malott, a 42-year-old 10-time PBA Tour titlist and former PBA Player of the Year, said. He threw 20 strikes in 22 meaningful attempts to pace all 40 bowlers in the PBA League competition.
“Wow; 20 strikes? I knew I threw a few,” he said.
“For whatever reason in the past, I felt so much pressure because I wanted to give Portland a championship,” Malott continued. “I haven’t been able to practice a lot lately, but I felt good this week and my ball just did what it needed to do. And I had five guys behind me, so it gave me all the confidence in the world.”
The PBA League’s championship was decided by two “race to 2 points” Baker team matches. The Baker format requires each of the teams’ players to bowl two frames to complete each game. Ties in games or matches were broken by a one-ball sudden death roll-off.
“That was fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Lumberjacks manager Tim Mack, who earlier this year was inducted into the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame. “I felt comfortable with the guys. We had a really good practice session beforehand, but do you ever think you’re going to sweep a team with the kind of firepower L.A. X had? No way. We made some key ball changes, made some key moves and, man, did my guys bowl good.”
Regarding Malott’s performance, Mack said, “It might have been the greatest performance by an anchor bowler I’ve ever seen. I call him ‘The Franchise’ for a reason.”
Portland, behind a string of four strikes in the middle of any otherwise error-free game, won the first point with a 228-206 decision over L.A. The Lumberjacks quickly surrendered their advantage with two splits and open frames to start game two, but rebounded behind five consecutive strikes and L.A. X’s inability to throw back-to-back strikes to win the game, 214-188, and sweep the first “race to 2 points” match.
The Lumberjacks carried their momentum into the second match, putting together two strings of four strikes – including three in the 10th frame by Malott – to win their third point, 221-197, and completed the four-point rout of L.A. X with a 247-208 win in game four, starting the decisive final game with five strikes while L.A. couldn’t overcome a barrage of single-pin spares.
The PBA Tour’s next event is the Barbasol PBA Tour Finals presented by Red Rock Resort, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. The tour’s eight points leaders over the past two seasons will compete in a series of qualifying and stepladder matches Saturday and Sunday at Red Rock Bowling Center in Las Vegas. The entire competition will be televised live by CBS Sports beginning at 3 p.m. ET both days.
PBA LEAGUE ELIAS CUP FINALS
Bayside Bowl, Portland, Maine, July 18
(Two Matches, Race to 2 Points Baker Team Format)
Final Standings: L.A. X (Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Jakob Butturff, Stuart Williams, Jason Belmonte, Dick Allen) ($60,000) def. Portland Lumberjacks (Kyle Troup, Mitch Hupé, Kris Prather, Ryan Ciminelli, Wes Malott) ($50,000), 2-0, 2-0.
Match One, Game One: Portland def. L.A., 228-206.
Match One, Game Two: Portland def. L.A., 214-188.
Match Two, Game One: Portland def. L.A., 221-197.
Match Two, Game Two: Portland def. L.A., 247-208.