Shipyard Dallas Strikers Repeat as L.L.Bean PBA League Elias Cup Champs; Duke Wins MVP Award

by Bill Vint May 14, 2017 11:51

PORTLAND, Maine - Crafty strategy and clutch shots at every critical turn helped the Shipyard Dallas Strikers successfully defend their L.L.Bean PBA League Elias Cup title at Bayside Bowl in a hotly-contested battle with the local-favorite L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks.

Dallas_2017 Elias Cup_Jones_Duke_Moore_Page_ONeill (5)Led by player-manager Norm Duke, the Strikers won the singles, trios and five-player Baker format matches for a 5-1 victory over the Lumberjacks. The finals aired Sunday on ESPN.

Duke, who was named Mark Roth PBA League Most Valuable Player at the conclusion of the event, gave Dallas a 1-0 lead with a 269-247 win over Portland’s Ryan Ciminelli in the opening singles match. Portland evened the score at 1-1 when Wes Malott and Kyle Troup topped Duke and Rhino Page in the doubles match, 238-209.

“We decided to put me first, and then me with a lefthander (Rhino Page) in the doubles match in order to preserve the lanes, because with all of the rev rate from our other guys, there wouldn’t be any oil left on the inside of the lane for anyone except me, and I needed more help than that,” Duke said. “And that left a fresher condition for our rev guys. They were able to make the adjustments and make the shots, and that’s why we came out on top.”

Dallas regained the upper hand with a 234-227 victory in the Baker trios match, with high-rev power players Tommy Jones, Bill O’Neill and BJ Moore III holding off Portland’s Malott, Bryon Smith and Liz Johnson.

In the decisive three-point five-player team finale, Duke’s strikes on both of his attempts, in the second and seventh frames, were converted into a turkey and a double ultimately made the difference in the Strikers’ 237-219 victory that locked up the Elias Cup.

Portland_Malott.Wes_2017 Elias Cup finals (8)

”Obviously it’s disappointing, but (Dallas) bowled a really good game,” said Portland manager Tim Mack. “They’re defending champions for a reason, but we made them earn it.”

Going into the finals, Duke was concerned about being an underdog in terms of fan support.

“I watched the semifinal match between (Portland) and the (Silver Lake) Atom Splitters, and that was a wow-wow-wow moment,” Duke said of the Lumberjack’s miraculous win. “They pulled it out, and when you have this many people rooting you on, and that much energy flowing their way, it’s hard to say destiny wasn’t on their side.

“But my group never flinched. They just kept at it. They’re champions, all of them.”

Duke’s passion for PBA League competition has continued to grow over the program’s five-year history, which is interesting considering he had least amount of team experience throughout his career of any player in the league. He never experienced high school, collegiate or Team USA competityion.

“That’s why you see so much excitement from me,” the PBA Hall of Famer said. “I’m 53 and slowing down a bit, but not when you jack me up like that. I feel like I’m 17 again. This is the kind of atmosphere we all want to play in front of. This league thing is going to take off; we all know it and it’s going to grow.”

Winning the MVP award, he added, took him completely by surprise.

duke“The MVP out of that group? No way,” he said. “Normally I wouldn’t put myself in position to win an award like that, but my crew kept saying, Norm, you’re throwing it last. We debated until the end, but my guys liked the way my ball was getting through the pins and they liked my chances, so that’s what happened.”

During the Elias Cup finals, Bayside Bowl co-owners Charlie Mitchell and Justin Alfond, along with PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark, announced the sixth annual PBA League finals will return to Portland in 2018 on dates to be announced.

The PBA Tour resumes competition with the inaugural eight-player Main Event PBA Tour Finals May 19-20 at Main Event-Orlando, Fla., which will air on five consecutive Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. EST on CBS Sports Network beginning May 30, followed by a pair of PBA Xtra Frame Storm Cup events, the PBA Xtra Frame Wilmington Open from Ten Pin Alley in Wilmington, N.C., May 26-29, and the PBA Xtra Frame Jonesboro Open from Jonesboro Bowling Center in Jonesboro, Ark., June 2-4. Both Storm Cup events will be covered live, from first ball to last, on PBA’s Xtra Frame video streaming service. Visit xtraframe.tv for subscription information.

L.L.BEAN PBA LEAGUE ELIAS CUP FINALS

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

Final Standings: Shipyard Dallas Strikers ($60,000) def. L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks ($50,000), 5-1.

Singles Match (one point): Norm Duke, Dallas, def. Ryan Ciminelli, Portland, 269-247.

Alternate Ball Doubles (one point): Wes Malott/Kyle Troup, Portland, def. Norm Duke/Rhino Page, Dallas, 238-209.

Baker Trios (one point): Dallas (Tommy Jones/Bill O’Neill/BJ Moore III) def. Portland (Wes Malott/Bryon Smith/Liz Johnson), 234-227.

Five-Player Baker Team (three points): Dallas (Bill O’Neill/Norm Duke/Rhino Page/BJ Moore/Tommy Jones) def. Portland (Liz Johnson/Bryon Smith/Kyle Troup/Ryan Ciminelli/Wes Malott), 237-219.

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Sunday on ESPN: L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks Hope to Dethrone Shipyard Dallas Strikers in Elias Cup Final

by Bill Vint May 11, 2017 08:17

PORTLAND, Maine – The battle for Elias Cup V Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT on ESPN promises to be electric as the hometown-favorite L.L. Bean Portland Lumberjacks try to unseat the defending champion Shipyard Dallas Strikers as the L.L.Bean PBA League competition concludes at Bayside Bowl.

Sunday’s Elias Cup finals will involve a lot of strategy between Strikers’ player-manager Norm Duke and Portland manager Tim Mack as they match up players for the singles, doubles and Baker trios matches – each worth one point – leading into the three-point five-player Baker team finale. If the contest winds up in a tie, the Elias Cup will be settled based on a one-ball sudden-death roll-off.

The Strikers, behind Duke and his team of Tommy Jones, Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page and B.J. Moore, advanced to the finals thanks to a sudden-death roll-off win over Lee Auto Malls L.A. X and a semifinal round sweep of the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen.

The Lumberjacks, on the other hand, had to win in sudden-death in both of their preliminary matches, knocking off the Barbasol Motown Muscle and the Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters. Mack’s roster of Wes Malott, Ryan Ciminelli, Kyle Troup, Bryon Smith and “Lumberjill” Liz Johnson will make their first Elias Cup finals appearance.

Duke and friends won the 2016 Elias Cup on the basis of Duke’s victory over Marshall Kent in the singles match for one point, followed by the Strikers’ 204-180 victory over the GEICO New York City WTT KingPins in the three-point Baker team finale. The KingPins won single points in the doubles and trios matches, but ultimately Dallas won the cup, 4-2.

In addition to the ESPN telecast, the finals also will be streamed simultaneously on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

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Dallas Strikers, Portland Lumberjacks Advance to L.L.Bean PBA League Elias Cup Finals

by Bill Vint May 7, 2017 12:05

PORTLAND, Maine – The excitement generated from four sudden-death roll-offs in the quarterfinals continued to build in the L.L.Bean PBA League semifinal round at Bayside Bowl when the defending champion Shipyard Dallas Strikers swept their best-of-two-game match against the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen while the local-favorite L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks won a stunning sudden-death battle over the Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters to set up the finalists for next Sunday’s Elias Cup finals.

The best-of-two-game semifinal round matches aired Sunday on ESPN. The PBA League Elias Cup will be decided next Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT on ESPN in a showdown involving singles, doubles, trios and Baker team matches.

Dallas_Page.Rhino_2017 PBAL Semi #1 (5)Employing a strategy that proved successful in the opening round, Dallas player-manager Norm Duke disregarded his personal views, electing to put his team on the more consistent right lane for the first game in order to finish the match on the tricky left lane. The strategy worked when team members Bill O’Neill, Duke, Rhino Page (at left), BJ Moore III and anchor bowler Tommy Jones strung five strikes in the second half of game one for a 239-196 win. The Strikers then clinched their berth in the Elias Cup finals with a 201-165 win in game two – the first match settled without a roll-off – taking advantage of a pair of doubles while Philadelphia ran into split trouble as the scoring conditions on the right lane began to change.

“We were the higher seed so we got to choose the order of lanes,” Duke said. “We decided to do what we did (in the first round) because my guys seemed to like them when they’re hooking more. I don’t know about that, but they have a point. When the other guys go to the right lane, it’s harder to move right than left.

“It was against my instincts, but I have some really good minds and they know what they like,” the PBA Hall of Famer added. “I can pretty much deal with all of it, so I try to put them in the right position. Now we’re back in the title match, and that’s what counts.”

The Lumberjacks had a more challenging trip to their finals berth, facing a comeback after the Atom Splitters – the only team to win the Elias Cup twice – escaped with a 221-217 win in the first game. As the lane conditions continued to transition in the second game, strikes became less frequent and spares became more valuable.

Heading into the 10th frame, Portland was on the brink of elimination after throwing only three strikes in the entire game. The Atom Splitters, needing only a mark in the 10th frame to lock up another berth in the Elias Cup finals, saw their hopes slip when anchor Jesper Svensson got his first shot wide and left the 3-7 split. Then the crowd was stunned when the left-handed two-hander threw a near-perfect shot, but the 3 pin wrapped around the 7, handing the Lumberjacks a 185-182 victory and sending yet another match into sudden-death.

Portland_Ciminelli.Ryan_2017 PBAL Semi #2 (8)In the one-ball roll-off, Silver Lake’s Tom Daugherty and Portland’s Wes Malott both struck. On the second attempt, Svensson came up light in the pocket again, leaving a 3 pin, and Portland’s Ryan Ciminelli (at left) sent the crowd into a frenzy with a strike.

“I couldn’t even hear myself screaming over the fans,” Ciminelli said. “Before Jesper got up in the 10th frame, I told (Lumberjacks manager) Tim (Mack) if he gives us a chance, I want it and he said, it doesn’t matter; you’re already getting it. Then he looked at Wes, and Wes said he wanted to throw (the sudden-death shot). We kinda went back and forth, but we decided it was going to take two shots, so (Wes) went first and he gave me the opportunity to be the hero. It’s a very cool feeling.”

“What a match,” Mack said. “We never expected Jesper to give us a chance. Just goes to show it isn’t over until it’s over. He gets up in the 10th and gets the ball a little wide, and leaves that split. And then he wraps the pin around the 7 pin, which is crazy. He couldn’t have made a better shot.

“In the roll-off it’s about heart and determination. All of a sudden we got a second life,” Mack continued. “I knew it was going to be Ryan or the big guy (Malott), and I went with Wes first just because he wanted to redeem himself after feeling like he let us down in the 10th frame. That’s not true, but he gave a chance. Then Jesper left a 7 pin and Ciminelli made an unbelievable shot. That’s what it’s all about.”

Next Sunday’s 1 p.m. EDT Elias Cup finals telecast between the Shipyard Dallas Strikes and L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks will include singles, doubles and Baker trios matches worth one point each, and a five-player Baker format team finale worth three points. In case of a tie, the Elias Cup will be decided in a one-ball sudden-death roll-off.

In addition to the Elias Cup, the PBA will recognize the PBA League’s Mark Roth Most Valuable Player at the conclusion of the finals.

The ESPN telecast will be simultaneously streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

L.L.BEAN PBA LEAGUE

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

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

Semifinal Match One: Shipyard Dallas Strikers (Bill O’Neill, Norm Duke, Rhino Page, B.J. Moore III, Tommy Jones) def. Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Ronnie Russell, Dave Wodka, Chris Loschetter, Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood), 239-196, 201-165.

Semifinal Match Two: L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks (Bryon Smith, Liz Johnson, Kyle Troup, Ryan Ciminelli, Wes Malott) def. Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Chris Barnes, Shawn Maldonado, DJ Archer, Tom Daugherty, Jesper Svensson), 217-221, 185-182, 10-10, 10-9 in one-ball sudden-death roll-off.

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Sunday on ESPN: Hitmen, Lumberjacks, Atom Splitters Hope to End Strikers’ Bid for Second Elias Cup Victory

by Bill Vint May 4, 2017 11:18

PORTLAND, Maine – L.L.Bean PBA League competition enters the semifinal round Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN with the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen, L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks and Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters hoping to prevent the Shipyard Dallas Strikers from winning back-to-back Elias Cups.

Sunday’s coverage will begin with the defending champion Strikers taking on the Hitmen, who have never won an Elias Cup, in a best-of-two-game Baker format team match. Then the Atom Splitters, the only team to win the PBA League Elias Cup twice, meet the hometown-favorite L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks in the second match.

hitmenThe Philadelphia Hitmen are managed by PBA Hall of Famer Jason Couch and feature a roster of Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood, Chris Loschetter (at left), Ronnie Russell and Dave Wodka. The Strikers are led by player-manager Norm Duke and his team of Tommy Jones, Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page and B.J. Moore.

The Atom Splitters, managed by Mark Baker, will send Chris Barnes, Tom Daugherty, Jesper Svensson, Shawn Maldonado and DJ Archer against a Lumberjacks team managed by Tim Mack and featuring Wes Malott, Ryan Ciminelli, Kyle Troup, Bryon Smith and “Lumberjill” Liz Johnson.

In keeping with PBA League play tradition, the best-of-two-game Baker matches will be decided by a dramatic one-ball sudden-death roll-off if the teams split their two games. All four quarterfinal round matches ended with sudden-death roll-offs.

Sunday’s winners will return for the Elias Cup finals on Sunday, May 14, at 1 p.m. The Elias Cup will be decided by a series of singles, doubles and Baker trios matches – worth one point each – along with a five-player Baker team finale worth three points. Again, sudden-death will be the deciding factor if the contest ends in a tie.

All ESPN telecasts also will be streamed simultaneously on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

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Portland, Silver Lake Win in Overtime to Complete L.L.Bean PBA League Semifinal Round

by Bill Vint April 30, 2017 11:58

PORTLAND, Maine – Portland’s rabid bowling fans don’t need much to get them started, but they were at their loudest when the L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks, along with the two-time Elias Cup champion Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters, advanced to L.L.Bean PBA League Elias Cup semifinals behind another set of sudden-death victories at Bayside Bowl.

The final two best-of-two-game quarterfinal round matches aired Sunday on ESPN.

The Atom Splitters, the only team to win two previous Elias Cups, got the quarterfinals off to another nerve-wracking start, closing game one of their best-of-two-game match against the MaineQuarterly.com Brooklyn Styles with six strikes for a 235-222 edge. But the Styles forced the roll-off with a 217-216 game two nail-biter. After Brooklyn’s Parker Bohn III finished his 10th frame with a strike/nine-spare, Silver Lake’s Jesper Svensson had a chance to clinch a two-game sweep with a strike in his 10th frame, but left a 7 pin on his first shot. He got the spare and with another chance to strike to tie the game, he left a 9 pin to send the contest in overtime where he struck for the win when Bohn left a 7 pin on his attempt.

“That was a little more exciting than I wanted it to be,” Atom Splitters’ manager Mark Baker said. “We went from having it won easily to, oh, my, we could lose this.”

After his two close chances to win, Baker wasn’t about to give up on his young Swedish two-handed player. “I asked him if he wanted to throw the shot. He said yes, and that’s all I wanted to hear,” Baker said of Svensson’s roll-off strike. “He threw it exactly the way we thought he would.”

“The first one I threw in the 10th I thought was quite good,” Svensson said. “When I made the spare I should have moved, but I didn’t. That got me a little frustrated but when Mark asked if I was ready to go again, I said yes. I moved and threw it really good, and it struck.

“It’s a great feeling to play in this bowling center with this crowd,” the 22-year-old Swede said. “They really pump you up. I’m the guy who doesn’t show too many emotions when I bowl but around here it’s impossible not to. It’s really cool.”

The already enflamed capacity crowd kept it up as their hometown Lumberjacks rallied in the last three frames of game one to pull out a 227-206 victory over the Barbasol Motown Muscle in the final quarterfinal round match. After starting game two with five strikes, it looked like victory was readily in hand. But “Lumberjill” Liz Johnson failed to convert a 3-10 split, and Kyle Troup, Bryon Smith and anchor Wes Malott spared in three of the next four frames while the Muscle’s Dick Allen, EJ Tackett and anchor Anthony Simonsen put together a string of five strikes to win game two, 248-225.

malottIn the roll-off, Malott (at left) struck for Portland and Simonsen left a solid 10 pin to send the Lumberjacks into the semifinal round against the Atom Splitters.

Malott noted the lane condition started to get away from the Lumberjacks after their five-strike start in game two, but when it came to the 10th frame and he knew his team was headed to a roll-off, Malott used that opportunity to get lined up for the roll-off.

“Hats off to Anthony; he made a great shot,” Malott said of Simonsen’s misfortune. “We were fortunate to come away with the win.”

“Anthony threw a great shot, but you could see every one of these roll-offs is coming down to a single pin,” Portland manager Tim Mack added. “Fortunately today we were on the right side of the break.”

Mack said the Lumberjacks were able to pull out the win by remaining under control throughout the match.

“I told our players, even though they’ve all been in position to make huge shots during their careers, to control their emotions and not get too high because we had the crowd behind us,” Mack said. “I told them to just make one good shot in the second half and we’d have a chance to win the game. And they all threw great shots down the stretch.

“In the roll-off, (Malott) had just come off the lane. Every one of our players could have thrown that shot, but (Wes) is bowling fifth in our lineup for a reason.”

Next Sunday’s 1 p.m. EDT semifinal round telecast will feature the Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen against the defending Elias Cup champion Shipyard Dallas Strikers followed by the Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters vs the L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks in the second “best-of-two-game” Baker format match. The winners will meet in the Elias Cup championship telecast on Sunday, May 14, at 1 p.m. Eastern. The Elias Cup finals will include singles, doubles and trios matches worth one point each, and a five-player Baker format team finale worth three points. In case of a tie, the Elias Cup will be decided in a one-ball sudden-death roll-off.

The ESPN telecast will be simultaneously streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

L.L.BEAN PBA LEAGUE

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

Quarterfinal Round Results (best-of-two-game Baker format)

Match Three: Live + Work in Maine Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Chris Barnes, Shawn Maldonado, DJ Archer, Tom Daugherty, Jesper Svensson) def. MaineQuarterly.com Brooklyn Styles (Walter Ray Williams Jr., Jason Sterner, Jon Van Hees, Sean Rash, Parker Bohn III), 235-222, 216-217, 10-9 in one-ball sudden-death roll-off.

Match Four: L.L.Bean Portland Lumberjacks (Liz Johnson, Kyle Troup, Bryon Smith, Ryan Ciminelli, Wes Malott) def. Barbasol Motown Muscle (Francois Lavoie, Josh Blanchard, Dick Allen, E.J. Tackett, Anthony Simonsen), 227-206, 225-248, 10-9 in one-ball sudden-death roll-off.

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