Silver Lake Atom Splitters Sweep Philadelphia Hitmen to Win Third PBA League Elias Cup; Barnes named MVP

by Bill Vint May 13, 2018 11:48

PORTLAND, Maine – The Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters became the first team to win three OceanView at Falmouth PBA League Elias Cup championships, winning in a dominant performance over the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen at Bayside Bowl.

The two match, best-of-two-game finals, part of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule, aired Sunday as the PBA Tour’s final telecast on ESPN after 38 consecutive years of coverage.

Silver Lake, the winner of back-to-back Elias Cups in 2014 and ’15, ended a two-year dry spell in a sweep over the Hitmen, who had never bowled in the Elias Cup finals. After a dominant semifinal round win over the Barbasol Motown Muscle, the Atom Splitters’ Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty and Chris Barnes had only one close call in a four-game sweep.

After winning the opening game, 248-189, on the strength of seven strikes in the first eight frames, game two came down to a 10th frame showdown where Atom Splitters’ anchor Barnes threw three strikes to force Matt Sanders to match the effort to force a roll-off. Sanders ran the Hitmen’s string of strikes five, but on his final ball in the 10th frame, Sanders left a 9 pin and Silver Lake claimed a 216-215 decision.

With match one secured, and Philadelphia running into spare-shooting difficulties, Silver Lake easily won game three, 202-163. The Atom Splitters completed the sweep by throwing the first six strikes in game four, winning again, 246-192.

“We went undefeated, but on every shot, you do the math in your head and take it one shot at a time,” Silver Lake manager Mark Baker said. “My guys really bowled well. Really well. We played the lanes a little differently than everyone else, and our shot wasn’t going away. Jesper was Jesper. Dick Allen bowls great in this place. Daugherty, except for the solid 8, struck on about every ball. Putting Chris (Barnes) last relaxed (Dick) and I think that was the big difference.

“This is so much fun,” Baker continued. “It’s hard to explain to anyone who has never been here what the atmosphere is like. The first shot thrown (in the final round) gave me goosebumps. I don’t bowl any more. It wasn’t even my team, but that’s how electrifying it is here.”

mark roth mvpWhile the entire Atom Splitters team bowled well, the decision to award the Mark Roth PBA League Most Valuable Player Award came down to Chris Barnes’ three-strike, 10th frame performance in game two of the Elias Cup finals. Barnes also won the inaugural Roth MVP award in 2014, making him the first two-time winner.

“That’s pretty cool, but I look at it as more of a team thing,” Barnes said. “We all struck a lot. We only had a couple of close games. I struck out to win one. It was a big one to win, but if it hadn’t been for a stone 8 (by Daugherty), we wouldn’t have been in a position where I needed to do that.

“Our guys were really clicking for the most part. We never had more than one person in between strikes and even then, we were all lined up,” he added. “(Philadelphia) just couldn’t get all of its guys going at the same time, and that’s always the issue here.”

At the conclusion of the event, PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark announced the PBA League will return to Bayside Bowl in 2019 as part of the PBA’s new television package with FOX Sports. Details will be announced later.

OCEANVIEW AT FALMOUTH PBA LEAGUE

Bayside Bowl, Portland, Maine (aired Sunday on ESPN)

Elias Cup Championship (two best-of-two-game Baker format matches): Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty, Chris Barnes) def. Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Tom Smallwood, Dom Barrett, Matt Sanders), 2-0 (248-189 and 216-215; 202-163 and 246-192).

2018 PBA LEAGUE FINAL STANDINGS

(Final position based on match play records followed by total pinfall)

1, Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty, Chris Barnes; manager Mark Baker), $60,000.

2, Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Tom Smallwood, Dom Barrett, Matt Sanders; manager Jason Couch), $50,000.

3, Shipyard Dallas Strikers (Bill O’Neill, player-manager Norm Duke, Kyle Sherman, Tommy Jones, Rhino Page), $35,000.

4, Barbasol Motown Muscle (Josh Blanchard, Shota Kawazoe, Francois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen, EJ Tackett; manager Del Ballard Jr.), $35,000.

5, GEICO NYC WTT KingPins (Sam Cooley, Anthony Pepe, Pete Weber, BJ Moore, Marshall Kent; manager Carolyn Dorin-Ballard), $25,000.

6, OceanView at Falmouth Brooklyn Styles (Walter Ray Williams Jr., Parker Bohn III, Jason Sterner, Sean Rash, Matt O’Grady; manager Johnny Petraglia), $25,000.

7, bowlingball.com L.A. X (Stuart Williams, Martin Larsen, Osku Palermaa, Jason Belmonte, Jakob Butturff; manager Andrew Cain), $25,000.

8, Port Property Management Portland Lumberjacks (Ryan Ciminelli, Jojoe Yannaphon, DJ Archer, Kyle Troup, Wes Malott; manager Tim Mack), $25,000.

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Saturday & Sunday on ESPN: OceanView at Falmouth PBA League Elias Cup Finals & More

by Bill Vint May 11, 2018 09:21

PORTLAND, Maine – A big weekend of PBA competition on ESPN begins Saturday with an encore telecast of the 2018 State Farm CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational, presented by GoBowling.com, and concludes Sunday with the Elias Cup finale of the sixth edition of OceanView at Falmouth PBA League competition at 1 p.m. ET, pitting the two-time champion Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters against the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen who are chasing their first PBA League championship in the raucous, fun-loving atmosphere of Bayside Bowl.

The Elias Cup finals, PBA’s final telecast in 38 years of continuous coverage on ESPN, also will include the awarding of the Mark Roth PBA League Most Valuable Player Award.

Preceding the Elias Cup finals, the big weekend of Go Bowling! PBA Tour television begins Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with the re-broadcast one of the PBA Tour’s favorite events, the CP3 Celebrity Invitational starring Houston Rockets All-Star Chris Paul and a few of his close friends along with a group of PBA stars. On Sunday, prior to the Elias Cup telecast, ESPN2 will re-air last Sunday’s PBA League semifinal round matches, starting at 11 a.m. ET, featuring matches between the Atom Splitters and the Barbasol Motown Muscle, and the Hitmen vs. the Shipyard Dallas Strikers.

The Atom Splitters roster, managed by Mark Baker, includes Swedish two-hander Jesper Svensson, 2015 Mark Roth MVP Dick Allen, PBA League newcomer AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty and 2014 Mark Roth MVP Chris Barnes.

Philadelphia, managed by PBA Hall of Famer Jason Couch, will be bowling in the Elias Cup title match for the first time. The Hitmen are Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood and Matt Sanders.

The Elias Cup will be decided using the same best-of-two-game format used in previous rounds with one variation: instead of one team match, the finals will feature two best-of-two matches, each of which will be decided by a one-ball roll-off if necessary. The new format presents the potential for a maximum of seven one-ball sudden-death roll-offs to decide ties.

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PBA Spare Shots: Big Weekend of PBA Bowling on ESPN Includes PBA League Elias Cup Finals

by Bill Vint May 10, 2018 08:55

PBA fans will be treated to six hours of great bowling action this weekend when ESPN airs the two-hour finals of the OceanView at Falmouth PBA League Elias Cup competition from Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern, plus re-broadcasts of the PBA League semifinals and the 2018 State Farm CP3 Celebrity Invitational presented by Go Bowling!.

The big weekend of Go Bowling! PBA Tour television begins Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with the re-broadcast one of the PBA Tour’s favorite events, the CP3 Celebrity Invitational. Chris Paul, as PBA fans may know, is the NBA All-Star point guard who played a key role in helping the Houston Rockets advance to the NBA Western Conference finals, highlighted by a 41-point, 10-assist performance in Wednesday’s decisive playoff game. The CP3 PBA Invitational telecast also features Paul’s teammates, James Harden and Trevor Ariza; newly-elected NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens; Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts and PBA stars Norm Duke, Pete Weber, Bill O’Neill, Sean Rash, EJ Tackett, DJ Archer and Dino Castillo, among others.

Leading into Sunday’s historic finale on ESPN, PBA fans can re-visit the PBA League semifinal round that aired last Sunday, attracting an audience of 587,000 viewers – the largest PBA League audience for a preliminary round telecast since the PBAL moved to Maine in 2015. The semifinals will re-air on ESPN2 Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.

At 1 p.m., the PBA will bid farewell to one of the longest running television relationships in sports Sunday when the Elias Cup will be decided in a two-hour finale on ESPN.

“The PBA has enjoyed a great run on ESPN,” PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark said. “Our partnership is a major chapter in PBA history and we will always be proud of the affiliation.”

PBA coverage was one of the first programming ventures signed by ESPN in 1979, its inaugural season. Over the past 38 years of continuous coverage – two years longer than PBA’s record run on ABC Television – ESPN has aired hundreds of PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour finals, including such memorable events as Pete Weber’s fifth U.S. Open victory; Kelly Kulick’s milestone win for women in sports in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions, and dozens of other events that are listed among the PBA’s 60 most memorable moments in its 60-year history.

For the balance of 2018, CBS Sports Network will provide coverage of the PBA Tour Finals and the U.S. Open before the PBA launches its new relationship with FOX Sports in 2019.

As legendary entertainer Bob Hope said, “Thanks for the memories…”

XTRA FRAME VISITS FOUNTAIN VALLEY, WILMINGTON, RENO AND MORE

This weekend’s Xtra Frame schedule features the PWBA at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, Calif., Friday and Saturday, before the PBA Tour returns to action with PBA Xtra Frame Wilmington, Open, the second of eight Xtra Frame PBA Tour events on the 2018 schedule. Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, will begin defense of his 2017 title Saturday-Sunday, May 19-20, at Ten Pin Alley Family Fun Center in Wilmington, N.C.

Xtra Frame also visits Reno, Nev., for the USBC Queens starting on May 17. Xtra Frame will cover qualifying and preliminary match play elimination rounds of PWBA’s first major championship of 2018 from the National Bowling Stadium May 17-21. The stepladder finals will air live on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday, May 22. Diana Zavjalova is the defending champion.

Xtra Frame, the online bowling channel of the PBA will be the livestream home of the PWBA Tour throughout the 2018 season, providing live coverage of all 14 events, including the stepladder finals of the first six standard events. Other finals will air on CBS Sports Network.

To enroll as an XtraFrame subscriber, visit xtraframe.tv. An entire month of coverage costs only $7.99. A three-day subscription is also available for $3.99, and the 12-month Season Ticket plan is offered for about $1.25 week.

PBA’S “MEMORABLE MOMENTS” 12 THRU 15 COMPLETE THE LIST, 1 THRU 11 REVISITED

The four additional milestones in PBA history listed below complete the list of the PBA”s “60 most memorable moments.” The top 10 moments (actually 11, because of a tie for 10th place) were revealed during the PBA’s 60th Anniversary celebration in Indianapolis in February, and are re-visited below along with “memorable moments” 12 through 16 which were unveiled on all of the PBA Network’s outlets last week. Here are those final moments:

1) Don Johnson’s 299 game in the championship game of the 1970 Firestone Tournament of Champions. He fell to floor after leaving a 10 pin on his final shot, rising to a standing ovation at Riviera Lanes.

2) Eddie Elias’ meeting with PBA’s 33 founding members in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1958.

3) Kelly Kulick becoming the first woman to win a PBA Tour title in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas.

4) Pete McCordic winning a $100,000 bonus with a nerve-wracked 300 game on ABC-TV in 1987.

5) Pete Weber striking in the 10th frame to claim a record fifth U.S. Open title by one pin in 2012, then uttering his famous phrase, “Who Do You Think You Are, I Am!”

LeRoy Neiman Million Dollar Strike6) Earl Anthony surpassing the $1 million career earnings milestone for the first time in winning the 1982 PBA National Championship. The decisive strike was captured in an oil painting (at left) by renowned artist LeRoy Neiman who witnessed the event and titled his original artwork “The Million Dollar Strike.”

7) Del Ballard Jr., needing two strikes and 7 pins to win the 1991 Fair Lanes Open over Pete Weber, gets the first two but rolls a gutter ball on his last shot to lose.

8) Mark Roth becoming the first player to convert the 7-10 split in a 1980 televised PBA final.

9) Bob Learn Jr. throws 44 out of a possible 48 strikes, including a 300 game, for a record four-game TV total of 1,129 pins to win the PBA Flagship Open in an arena in his hometown of Erie, Pa., in 1996.

10 & 11) A tie between the 2011 TOC from Red Rock in Las Vegas where Mika Koivuniemi defeated Tom Daugherty in the biggest margin of victory ever, 299-100 (lowest game ever bowled on TV) and then goes on to win the $250,000 record first prize. It was the PBA’s first live telecast on ABC-TV since 1997. And also tied for 10th, Randy Pedersen needed a strike to defeat Ernie Schlegel to win the 1995 Touring Players Championship, but his seemingly perfect shot left a stone 8 pin, prompting Schlegel to go into a wild celebration.

12) Jack Biondolillo bowled the first nationally televised 300 game in PBA history during the finals of the 1967 Firestone Tournament of Champions, defeating Les Schissler, 300-216, in the second match of the finals and earning a $10,000 perfect game bonus. Biondolillo then lost to Don Johnson in the semifinal match, 228-172, and Jim Stefanich defeated Johnson, 43-36, in a two-frame roll-off for the title after they tied at 227.

13) In 1991, Pete Weber won his third BPAA U.S. Open title at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, throwing 10 consecutive strikes after a spare and ending the match with a 10 pin to defeat Mark Thayer, 289- 184. During the trophy presentation, Weber famously hoisted the trophy only to have the ceramic eagle topple to the ground and shatter.

14) In 1962, ABC Sports began its “Pro Bowlers Tour” series coverage with the Empire State Open. Hall of Fame broadcaster Chris Schenkel was in the booth for the first broadcast. 

15) In the spring of 2000, the PBA was purchased by former Microsoft executives Chris Peters, Mike Slade and Rob Glaser. PBA headquarters were later relocated to Seattle after spending the first 42 years in Akron, Ohio.

To review all 60 memorable moments, visit: https://www.pba.com/PBANetwork/MostMemorableMoments.

PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: ANGELO WINS SECOND REGIONAL TITLE IN OHIO

Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y. defeated Charlie Brown Jr. of Grandville, Mich. by four pins Sunday to win the PBA Taylor Kia Central Open presented by Hammer at Holiday Bowl in Struthers, Ohio.

Angelo, a two-time PBA Tour titlist, finished with a 8-4 match play record and a total of 5,071 pins for 20 games, including match play bonus pins, for his second PBA Regional title and first since 2006. The 48-year-old Angelo earned $2,500 in his 49th PBA Regional over a span of 26 years as a PBA member. Brown posted an 8-4 match play record and knocked down 5,067 pins to earn the $1,350 runner-up prize.

Brad Miller from Maryland Heights, Mo., after losing his first two matches in the eight-game round robin finals, used games of 279 and 290 to vault to the lead and then held off Austin Boulds of Creal Springs, Ill., to claim his second PBA Regional title at the 11th annual PBA Junction City Bowl Southwest/Midwest Open presented by Dexter on Sunday in Junction City, Kan.

Miller took a 60-pin lead over Boulds into their position round match where the title came down to the final frame. Thanks to an early string of strikes, Boulds had a chance to claim the title, but a 4-9 split in the 10th frame ended his bid. Despite winning the game, 244-225, Boulds was unable to overcome Miller’s lead. Miller survived, 4,778-4,767 including match play bonus pins, for the $2,500 first prize.

Kole Payne of Charlotte, N.C., won his first PBA title and a $2,500 prize Sunday, defeating amateur Brian Dennis of Creedmoor, N.C., 213-190, to win the inaugural PBA Sandhills Aberdeen South Open at Sandhills Bowling Center in Aberdeen, N.C.

Payne, who qualified third for the stepladder finals with a 16-game pinfall of 3,374, mowed down three opponents in his second PBA event as a member. In first stepladder match, he defeated Zack Brown of Holly Springs, N.C., 236-182, and he then eliminated five-time PBA Tour champion Dick Allen of Columbia, S.C., 236-197, in the semifinal match.

● Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-13, includes these PBA Regional events: the PBA50 and PBA Baldo Campana Memorial/Ohio Lottery Central Open doubleheader (PBA50 presented by MOTIV, one-day reduced entry fee PBA presented by DV8) at Rebman Recreation in Lorain, Ohio; the Oklahoma City Southwest Open at Planet Bowl in Oklahoma City; the PBA and PBA50 FiX Auto of Puyallup Open doubleheader (PBA50 presented by Sunset Auto Group; PBA presented by The Old Cannery) at Daffodil Bowl in Puyallup, Wash., and the PBA-PWBA Jim’s Strike Zone Pro Shop Northwest Open presented by Daffodil Bowl and Vise, also in Puyallup.

● The only event on PBA’s Regional calendar for the May 18-20 weekend is the Waxahachie Southwest Challenge at Hilltop Lanes in Waxahachie, Texas.

● The May 24-26 PBA Regional schedule includes the PBA and PBA50 Vanessa Brown Homes West Open (PBA presented by Track, PBA50 presented by Ebonite); the Colony Park Lanes East Challenge presented by Columbia 300 in York, Pa., and the Celeste Walker Midwest/Central Open presented by American Family Insurance at Strike-N-Spare II in Lockport, Ill.

● For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on PBA Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area…and remember, you can follow “live scoring” for all PBA Regional events on pba.com (easily accessible for Apple device users using the PBA app).

QUICK NOTES

● PBA member Michael J. Jackson of Brook Park, Ohio, died on April 30, four days after his 52nd birthday. Jackson had been a member since 2000. He bowled in six PBA Regional events without winning a title. Funeral services were held on May 3 in Brunswick, Ohio.

● The PBA has learned that former member Julius Glockner of Raeford, N.C., died on April 27 from cancer. He was 78. A native of Croatia, Glockner was a 26-year U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam, Germany and Korea.

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Silver Lake Atom Splitters, Philadelphia Hitmen Advance to PBA League Elias Cup Finals

by Bill Vint May 6, 2018 10:53

PORTLAND, Maine – The Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters will get a chance to become the first three-time OceanView at Falmouth PBA League Elias Cup champions after a convincing semifinal round victory, but the two-time defending champion Shipyard Dallas Strikers will be watching from the sidelines after losing a thrilling “double overtime” battle with the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen team.

The best-of-two-game semifinal rounds matches, which are part of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule, were contested at Bayside Bowl and aired Sunday on ESPN.

Silver Lake, the winner of back-to-back Elias Cups in 2014 and ’15, was dominant in sweeping the Barbasol Motown Muscle in their best-of-two-game Baker format match, throwing 10 strikes in 12 attempts in game one for a 258-235 win, and almost duplicating their first game performance in posting a 245-207 victory to complete their march to the Elias Cup championship match.

The Atom Splitters’ Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty and Chris Barnes as a team missed the pocket twice in two games.

“That was some pretty stellar bowling,” said Atom Splitters manager Mark Baker.” There wasn’t much for me to do other than keep giving them high fives.”

In the second semifinal match, the Dallas Strikers looked like they were going to make the finale a match between the PBA League’s only two-time winners, romping to a 278-248 win over the Hitmen in game one. After Bill O’Neill and player-manager Norm Duke converted single-pin spares in the first two frames, Kyle Sherman, Rhino Page and Tommy Jones began a run of nine consecutive strikes to run away with the first game.

But Philadelphia pulled off a stunning upset. In game two, the Hitmen took a two-pin advantage into the 10th frame where anchor bowler Dom Barrett left the 2-8 on his first shot. After converting the spare, he needed nine pins to clinch the win by a pin, but left a pocket 7-10 split, ending the game in a 213-213 tie and forcing a one-ball sudden death roll-off.

Philadelphia manager Jason Couch sent in rookie left-hander Matt Sanders, who struck. Dallas countered with its leftie, veteran Rhino Page, who left a 6 pin.

Dallas StrikersWith the match then tied at one game each, another roll-off was needed to decide who advanced to the Elias Cup finals. Sanders struck and Duke matched him. Couch then called on Tom Smallwood, who got help from a messenger to take out the 10 pin for another strike. Page (at left) again got the call for Dallas, but again misfired, leaving a 2 pin and sending the Hitmen into the Elias Cup title match for the first time in the series’ seven-year history.

“My heart was definitely pumping,” Couch said. “That’s what we hope will happen in this kind of format. I got lucky; I made the right moves and put guys in the right spot, and it worked out well.

PhiladelphiaHitmen_Sanders.Matt_2018PBALSemi2(3)“We’ve been here enough times. We know the environment,” Couch added. “Nothing seems to rattle (Sanders, at left). He’s really good under pressure. We explained to him after we drafted him what he could expect when he came to Portland. We told him to just have a good time.

“I have no problem sending ‘Smalls’ in when we need something. He’s come of age; he bloomed a little later than normal, but I’d take him in that position any time. He did it in Columbus (where he won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship), and he did it for us last year. I have no problem with him anywhere in our lineup.”

The Elias Cup and the Mark Roth PBA League MVP will be decided on ESPN on Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m. ET. The new Elias Cup format will involve two best-of-two-game Baker format matches with a one-ball sudden death roll-off being used to decide any ties. The new format could see up to seven one-ball roll-offs.

OCEANVIEW AT FALMOUTH PBA LEAGUE

Bayside Bowl, Portland, Maine (aired Sunday on ESPN)

Semifinal Round (best-of-two-game Baker format)

Match One: Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty, Chris Barnes) def. Barbasol Motown Muscle (Josh Blanchard, Shota Kawazoe, Francois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen, EJ Tackett), 258-235, 245-207.

Match Two: Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Tom Smallwood, Dom Barrett, Matt Sanders) def. Shipyard Dallas Strikers (Bill O’Neill, Norm Duke, Kyle Sherman, Tommy Jones, Rhino Page), 248-278, 213-213, 10-9 to decide game; one-ball, sudden death roll-off to decide the match, 10-10, 10-9.

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Sunday on ESPN: Will Motown Muscle/Philly Hitmen Derail Atom Splitters/Strikers’ Bid for Third Elias Cup?

by Bill Vint May 4, 2018 07:52

PORTLAND, Maine –As the 2018 OceanView at Falmouth PBA League enters its semifinal round Sunday on ESPN (1 p.m. ET), the key questions are: will the two-time defending champion Shipyard Dallas Strikers or the previous two-time champion Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters keep their hopes of becoming the first three-time Elias Cup winner alive. Or, will the Barbasol Motown Muscle or the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen spoil the party as they pursue their first PBA League championship?

ESPN’s coverage of Sunday’s Go Bowling! PBA Tour team competition at Bayside Bowl will decide the two teams that will bowl for the Elias Cup on ESPN on May 13 at 1 p.m.

Semifinal One will pit the Atom Splitters, Elias Cup winners in 2014 and ’15, against the Muscle, who finished second to the NYC WTT KingPins in the inaugural Elias Cup finals in Indianapolis in 2013. The Atom Splitters roster, managed by Mark Baker, includes Swedish two-hander Jesper Svensson, 2015 Mark Roth MVP Dick Allen, PBA League newcomer AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty and 2014 Mark Roth MVP Chris Barnes. Motown, managed by PBA Hall of Famer Del Ballard Jr., will field a lineup including PBA Tour titlists Josh Blanchard, Francois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen and EJ Tackett, and PBAL “rookie” Shota Kawazoe of Japan.

Philadelphia Hitmen 2Semifinal Two will feature the Strikers, led by player-manager and reigning PBA League Mark Roth MVP Norm Duke, against the Hitmen, managed by Duke’s long-time rival and fellow Clermont, Fla., resident Jason Couch. Duke’s teammates include PBA Tour champions Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, Tommy Jones and PBA League rookie Kyle Sherman. Couch’s roster includes PBA Tour veteran champions Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Dom Barrett and Tom Smallwood along with 2017 PBA Rookie of the Year Matt Sanders. The Hitmen are trying to reach the Elias Cup title match for the first time.

“I guess we have our work cut out for us,” Couch said of his team’s matchup against the Strikers. “I was so focused on our quarterfinal match, I wasn’t paying attention to who we’d bowl if we won, but I guess now it’s Clermont vs. Clermont. It should be a good day.”

Each semifinal match features a best-of-two-game Baker format team match, with a one-ball sudden-death roll-off deciding any ties. The winning teams will advance to the Elias Cup finals on ESPN on Sunday, May 13, at 1 p.m. ET when the Mark Roth PBA League MVP also will be announced. The new Elias Cup finals format will include two best-of-two-game Baker format team matches which presents the potential for a maximum of seven one-ball sudden-death roll-offs to decide ties.

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