Professional Bowlers Association
PORTLAND, Maine – Helped greatly by a series of clutch 10th-frame strikes, the Bass Pro Shops Silver Lake Atom Splitters won their second straight Professional Bowlers Association League Elias Cup with an impressive 5-1 decision over the Wheaties L.A. X at Bayside Bowl.
The Elias Cup finals, which aired Sunday on ESPN, concluded the PBA Tour’s first visit to the state of Maine. At the close of the competition – eight days after escaping serious injury in an automobile accident – Silver Lake anchor bowler Dick Allen of Columbia, S.C., was selected as the PBA League’s Mark Roth Most Valuable Player.
Silver Lake opened the multi-event Elias Cup finals with a 223-211 victory by Chris Barnes over L.A. X’s Jason Belmonte in the singles match. Barnes survived a 4-6 split in the third frame and a missed 4 pin in the ninth with a string of five strikes in the middle of his game, followed by two strikes and a nine-count in the 10th frame to win the first point.
L.A. X evened the score at 1-1 when Stuart Williams and Patrick Allen escaped with a 212-211 win in the alternate ball doubles match against Barnes and Mika Koivuniemi. Barnes’ seven-count 4-6-7 split on his final shot proved to be the difference.
The Atom Splitters quickly righted their ship in Baker Trios when Allen, Craig Nidiffer and Tom Daugherty were nearly perfect in posting a 297-246 victory over Belmonte, Andres Gomez and Martin Larsen. A 2-8-10 split on Allen’s final ball in the 10th frame was Silver Lake’s only flaw as it took a 2-1 lead.
With three points at stake in the Baker team finale, Silver Lake again responded. After defeating L.A. X in the 2014 team finale, 225-203, the Atom Splitters rallied from an early 10-pin deficit for a 236-215 victory to retain the Elias Cup. Allen started the come-from-behind victory with a strike in the fifth frame, and capped a string of six straight strikes with the first strike in the 10th frame to ice the title.
“This is definitely the highlight of my career,” the 36-year-old Allen said. “The whole situation of being chosen by (team manager) Mark Baker and Chris (Barnes) and Mika (Koivuniemi) to put me at anchor surprised me a little, but I like that position. They instilled a lot of confidence in me this week. It did a lot of good for me personally.”
Heading into the Elias Cup finals, Allen had made clutch sudden-death roll-off shots to give Silver Lake victories in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds despite a stiff, sore neck sustained in his one-car accident the previous Sunday near his home in South Carolina.
“I was coming around a corner, swerved to avoid hitting a dog in the road, and lost control,” he said. “I went into a ditch and hit a pole. I thought I was done for, but I got away with just some whiplash.”
His pain-in-the-neck was one issue, Allen said, but the loud, non-stop chanting and cheering by the Bayside Bowl fans didn’t bother him at all. In fact, it actually made him feel at home.
“The more you bowl on TV, the more loosened up you get,” Allen, a three-time PBA Tour title winner, said, “but the crowd here was highly unexpected. Fortunately I’m used to that because back home, I practice with my buddies after the bowling center closes, and we crank up the music, and my buddies trash-talk non-stop, so bowling here was just like after-hours practice at home.”
Allen admitted the crowd did influence his errant final shot in the Baker trios match, spoiling the team’s bid for a 300.
“The crowd got me,” he grinned. “They had been so loud, but in about my third step, they got quiet. I didn’t expect that. In that little moment, it kinda got me. My fundamentals collapsed.”
The PBA Tour will resume competition May 9-17 when FireLake Bowling Center hosts the preliminary rounds of the Oklahoma Grand Casino Hotel and Resort Summer Swing in Shawnee, Okla. The multi-event competition will include the Wolf, Badger, Bear and Oklahoma Open title events, followed by the King of the Swing special event. All finals will be held in the Grand Casino Event Center and will air on CBS Sports Network. Dates and times will be announced later.
PBA LEAGUE ELIAS CUP FINALS
Bayside Bowl, Portland, Maine, March 29 (aired April 19)
Bass Pro Shops Silver Lake Atom def. Wheaties L.A. X, 5-1.
Singles Match (one point)
Chris Barnes, Silver Lake Atom Splitters, def. Jason Belmonte, L.A. X, 223-211.
Alternate Ball Doubles (one point)
L.A. X (Stuart Williams/Patrick Allen) def. Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Mika Koivuniemi/Chris Barnes), 212-211.
Baker Trios (one point)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Dick Allen/Craig Nidiffer/Tom Daugherty) def. L.A. X (Jason Belmonte/Andres Gomez/Martin Larsen), 297-246.
Five-Player Baker Team (three points)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Mika Koivuniemi/Chris Barnes/Craig Nidiffer/Tom Daugherty/Dick Allen) def. L.A. X (Stuart Williams/Andres Gomez/Patrick Allen/Martin Larsen/Jason Belmonte), 236-215.