Dallas Strikers, Philadelphia Hitmen Advance to PBA League Semifinal Round


Bill Vint | PBA Media Relations

Professional Bowlers Association | 55 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 401 | Chicago, IL 60604

bill.vint@pba.com | cell: 414.339.0404

Dallas Strikers, Philadelphia Hitmen Advance to PBA League Semifinal Round

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

PORTLAND, Maine – The two-time defending champion Shipyard Dallas Strikers will carry their bid to become the first three-time OceanView at Falmouth PBA League Elias Cup champion into the semifinalround after a thrilling extra frame victory over the GEICO NYC WTT KingPins, but standing in the way will be a determined Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen team that has its collective eyes focused on winning its first Elias Cup.

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

Dallas lived up to its nickname, roaring out of the gate with a string of six strikes by Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, Kyle Sherman, Tommy Jones and player-manager Norm Duke to build a 40-pin lead after five frames. The KingPins, fired up by PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber, rallied with a late string of four strikes, but couldn’t overcome Dallas’ early lead.

With a 241-224 victory in hand, Dallas looked like it was going to run away with a two-game sweep, starting game two with four strikes. But Duke left a 3-10 split in the fifth frame, which he converted, but the KingPins got on a roll while the Strikers stumbled late in the game, losing to New York City, 237-208, to force the first one-ball sudden-death roll-off of the 2018 competition.

The matter was settled quickly when KingPins’ anchor Marshall Kent left a ringing 10 pin, and Duke, a PBA Hall of Famer and 38-time PBA Tour champion, struck.

“We had them; we started with four in a row and I made about the worst shot you can possibly make (in the fifth frame of game two),” Duke said, “and then it was a series of mistakes. But that’s the thing about winning game one. You’re still in it. In this format, unless you’re dominant and sweep, it’s going to come down to one ball and we all know it.

“Nobody wants it, really,” he added. “Even if you’re on the right lane. Even if you’re of sound mind. You grab the ball and your legs start shaking. You saw me balk. It was partly because (the down lane camera man) scooted his chair, but it also gave me a chance to come back and regroup because my legs were noodles.

“That’s pressure right there. I’ve been in that situation many times but I was scared out of my wits. You’re kinda bowling in a state of shock. It wasn’t my best shot, but I knew off my hand it was really close. I knew it was nine or better, and if I carried the 10, we win the match. And we did.”

In the final quarterfinal match, Philadelphia used a steady approach with critical clutch shots to topple the hometown Lumberjacks, 224-222, in the opening game and easily won game two, 209-157, when Portland ran into all kinds of problems, throwing only two strikes along with a split and two missed spares. The Hitmen got a string of five strikes from no. five bowler Tom Smallwood, Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Dom Barrett and Matt Sanders to turn the match into a rout.

“It was nip-and-tuck for the first match but my guys bowled as well today, if not better, than they did in the seeding tournament,” said Philadelphia manager Jason Couch. “We don’t have a great history in this event. We’ve struggled from time to time, and this is the third time in four years we’ve drawn the home team, which makes for a tough environment. But I’m proud of the way my guys bowled today.

“Matt Sanders is our new guy,” Couch said of the PBA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year. “I don’t know him really well, but I watched him bowl all week and he’s the real deal. I have no problem putting him in the five hole, or the four hole. He’s a good player.

“Tom Smallwood? He’s a late bloomer, but he’s been money for me,” Couch added. “He seems to thrive in this environment when you wouldn’t think he would. He’s a quiet guy but he never has a problem taking on the responsibility.”

In the first semifinal round match that will air on ESPN on Sunday, May 6, at 1 p.m. ET, the Barbasol Motown Muscle, who have never won the Elias Cup, will meet the two-time past champion Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters. The second semifinal will involve the Dallas Strikers and the Philadelphia Hitmen, who also have never won the Elias Cup.


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

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

Match Three: Shipyard Dallas Strikers: (Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, Kyle Sherman, Tommy Jones, Norm Duke) def. GEICO NYC WTT KingPins (Sam Cooley, Anthony Pepe, Pete Weber, BJ Moore, Marshall Kent), 241-224, 208-237, 10-9 in one-ball roll-off.

Match Four: Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood, Matt Sanders) def. Port Property Management Portland Lumberjacks (Ryan Ciminelli, Jojoe Yannaphon, DJ Archer, Kyle Troup, Wes Malott), 224-222, 209-157.



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

Semifinal Match Two: Shipyard Dallas Strikers: (Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, Kyle Sherman, Tommy Jones, Norm Duke) vs. Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (Ronnie Russell, Chris Loschetter, Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood, Matt Sanders).


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, GoBowling.com, HotelPlanner.com, MOTIV, 900 Global, PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to www.pba.com

# # #


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s