Atom Splitters, Motown Muscle Win as PBA League Gets Underway


Bill Vint | PBA Media Relations

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Atom Splitters, Motown Muscle Win as PBA League Gets Underway

Underdog Motown Muscle will bid for first Elias Cup berth against two-time past champions

PORTLAND, Maine – The two-time past champion Oceanview at Falmouth Silver Lake Atom Splitters will continue their bid for a third OceanView at Falmouth PBA League Elias Cup in the semifinal round, but the underdog Barbasol Motown Muscle will have a say in Silver Lake’s future after posting an inspired opening-round victory as the sixth edition of the Elias Cup competition got off to a thunderous start in front of a sold-out crowd at Bayside Bowl.

The first two best-of-two-game quarterfinal rounds matches, which are part of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule, aired Sunday on ESPN.

In the first best-of-two-game match of the 2018 PBA League competition, the underdog Motown Muscle knocked out the top-seeded L.A. X team, 233-194 and 219-210. The first game of the Baker format match included two strings of four strikes by Motown’s Josh Blanchard, Shota Kawazoe, Francois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen and EJ Tackett while L.A. X threw only one strike in the first eight frames.

Game two was a nail-biter heading into the 10th frame where Tackett, working on a strike, left a 4 pin. L.A. X anchor bowler Jakob Butturff needed two strikes and nine pins to send the match into a one-ball sudden-death roll-off, but he left a 7 pin to hand Motown’s its first sweep in the PBA League’s six-year history.

That was exciting,” Motown manager Del Ballard Jr. said. “I thought (Butturff’s) second shot was better than the first, but he didn’t get the strike.

“We obviously weren’t overconfident (after qualifying eighth),” he added. “We’ve always had a good team on paper, but not when it counts. Today was a different day than yesterday. I just tried to keep my guys loose. I told them, when you think about it, we had a USBC Masters champion (Simonsen), a U.S. Open champion (Lavoie), a two-time PBA World Champion (Tackett), the best player in his home country (Japan’s Kawazoe) and we still didn’t stack up against (L.A. X’s Jason Belmonte, a 17-time PBA Tour champion and four-time PBA Player of the Year).

“But the PBA League is about the team, not one guy. I didn’t want my guys over-thinking so we narrowed things down to one or two balls for each player to make decisions simpler, and it worked out perfectly.”

In the second match, the 2014 and 2015 Elias Cup champion Atom Splitters got off to a slow start against Brooklyn, but Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty and anchor bowler Chris Barnes combined for a string of five strikes, taking the lead when Brooklyn’s PBA Hall of Famers Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Parker Bohn III left back-to-back splits. A late string of five strikes wasn’t enough as the Atom Splitters took a 223-212 decision.

Game two wasn’t as close. Silver Lake struck on seven of its first eight shots and ran away with a 257-205 victory after the Styles left seven single pins.

“The first game is always nerve-wracking,” said Silver Lake manager Mark Baker. “The adrenalin kicks in for everyone. You can’t explain to first-time bowlers what it’s going to be like with the crowds here. Even my heart started pumping.”

A pivotal shot involved Barnes converting the 2-5-8 in the 10th frame of game one, which gave the Atom Splitters the win.

“Chris making that spare was huge,” Baker said. “We won the first game, and when that happens, you know you will at least tie. When you win the first game, youknow you’ve got a free swing at it in game two. It got all of our guys a little looser.”

Motown, which has never won the Elias Cup, will meet the Atom Splitters in the first semifinal round match that will air on ESPN on Sunday, May 6, at 1 p.m. ET.

The final two quarterfinal round matches – New York City vs. Dallas and Philadelphia vs. Portland – will air next Sunday, April 29, at 1 p.m. ET with the winners advancing to the second semifinal match on May 6. The Elias Cup finals will air on Sunday, May 13, at 1 p.m. All ESPN telecasts are being simultaneously streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.


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

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

Match One: Barbasol Motown Muscle (Josh Blanchard, Shota Kawazoe, Francois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen, EJ Tackett) def. L.A. X (Stuart Williams, Martin Larsen, Osku Palermaa, Jason Belmonte, Jakob Butturff), 233-194, 219-210.

Match Two: Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson, Tom Daugherty, Chris Barnes) def. OceanView at Falmouth Brooklyn Styles (Walter Ray Williams Jr., Parker Bohn III, Jason Sterner, Sean Rash, Matt O’Grady), 223-212, 257-205.



Quarterfinal Match Three:

GEICO NYC WTT KingPins (Pete Weber, Marshall Kent, Sam Cooley, BJ Moore, Anthony Pepe) vs. Shipyard Dallas Strikers: (player-manager Norm Duke, Tommy Jones, Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, Kyle Sherman).

Quarterfinal Match Four:

Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood, Ronnie Russell, Matt Sanders, Chris Loschetter) vs. Port Property Management Portland Lumberjacks (Ryan Ciminelli, Wes Malott, Kyle Troup, DJ Archer, Jojoe Yannaphon)



Semifinal Match One: Barbasol Motown Muscle vs. Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters.

Semifinal Match Two: GEICO NYC WTT KingPins-Shipyard Dallas Strikers Winner vs. Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen-Port Property Management Portland Lumberjacks Winner.


Elias Cup championship finals (best of two games, Baker format team games; one-ball sudden-death roll-off will decide any ties)

About the PBA

In 2018 the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) celebrates its 60th anniversary. The PBA is an organization of more than 3,000 of the best bowlers from 27 countries who compete in Go Bowling! PBA Tour, PBA International Tour, PBA Regional Tour, PBA Women’s Regional and PBA50 Tour events. The 2018 season also marks the 59th consecutive year of nationally-televised competition, reaching bowling fans around the world who follow PBA activities through the PBA Network which includes Xtra Frame, the PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, ESPN and CBS Sports Network, and the PBA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. PBA sponsors include Barbasol, Brunswick, Ebonite International, GEICO,,, MOTIV, 900 Global, PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to

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About Me

Brian grew up in New York before moving to Phoenix, AZ in 1991. He has been involved in writing for his own bowling publication called “Striking Spotlight.” He has been published in the Desert Bowler Newspaper, Windy City News Newspaper and the Bowlers Journal. Hirsch is a Youth Director in the Kenosha USBC and a former Director for the Metro Phoenix USBC. As a Level 1 and RVP USBC coach, he can be found coaching his wife Amber and their son Masen each Saturday morning. Hirsch currently has (6) 300’s and (4) 800’s and is a member of the International Gay Bowling Organization where he is a five-time IGBO Champion and a six-time Arizona State Grand Canyon State Games Medalist. The Hirsch’s moved to Wisconsin to be closer to family and assist the Freedom Farm for Vets. Hirsch’s home bowling center is Sheridan Lanes, located in Kenosha, WI.


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