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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