November 1, 2007 19:00
Friday night was a memorable night for the Dorin-Lizzi-Ballard family.
As the Denny’s PBA Tour and the brand new PBA Women’s Series come together for the first time, the merger of men’s and women’s bowling is paying big dividends for Jeff Lizzi and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, the brother- and sister- in law who both made the championship round of their respective tournaments in the 2007 Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes.
Dorin-Ballard, whose sister Cathy is married to Lizzi, a Denny’s PBA Tour titlist, nearly fired a 300 game in finishing off Liz Johnson, four-games-to-none, to advance to the finals in the first PBA Women’s Series event.
With the aid of a 279-215 win over Johnson in game four, Dorin-Ballard (N. Richland Hills, Texas) proved she is taking her dominance from the now-defunct Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour, where she won 20 titles, to the all new women’s mini-tour, which is being sponsored by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).
Her brother-in-law, Jeff, will be the feel-good story of Sunday’s finals as the non-exempt bowler advanced to his first championship round since 2003. Lizzi, who has not bowled full-time in many years, will look for his first title since the 1992 Brunswick Memorial World Open which came in his first career championship round. Should Lizzi win the title, he would break the record for most time between Denny’s PBA Tour titles.
“The last five years I’ve just bowled the events that are close to home. In fact, the last time I bowled a PBA event was last year in Grand Rapids where I was in the same position, bowling Danny Wiseman in the World Championship for a spot on the show,” Lizzi (Sandusky, Ohio) said. “I wasn’t going to bowl this week but my wife entered me in the event. I didn’t know if I wanted to but she said ‘Come on, it’s only an hour and a half away.’ Thank god she did. Hopefully I can finish it out.”
Lizzi will have the unenviable task of facing all-time Denny’s PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr., who defeated fellow PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber, 4-0. Williams has now won six consecutive matches against Weber over the last three seasons, a streak that included his record-tying and record-breaking titles in the 2006 Denny’s World Championship and the Dydo Japan Cup 2007, respectively.
Williams has been a thorn in Weber’s side throughout their 25 years on Tour together, compiling an 8-2 record on television against the 34-time champion, which includes a 5-0 record in title matches.
“I think about it a lot,” Williams said about his advantage over Weber. “From my end, it’s awesome. Pete is one of the greatest players in the world and for whatever reason I’ve got his number badly.”
Williams (Ocala, Fla.) escaped a tough battle with Tommy Delutz Jr. in the Round of 16, winning in a game seven roll-off after they tied at 268 in the deciding game. After both players struck with their first four shots in the roll-off, Williams struck again while Delutz left a solid 10-pin to give Williams the 50-49 roll-off victory.
The winner of the Lizzi-Williams match will face either Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.) or Mika Koivuniemi, who both won their Round of 8 matches, 4-2. McCune, who defeated Mike DeVaney, will look for his second career title while Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.), who took down Chris Loschetter, will be vying to become the first two-time winner in 2007-08.
Dorin-Ballard, meanwhile, will face top-seed Missy Bellinder. Bellinder (Fullerton, Calif.) is the only woman ever to win two PBA Regional Tour events.
The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. EST at Taylor Lanes. The two men’s semifinals take place first followed by the women’s title match, which will award the winner $10,000. The men’s title match follows with the winner taking home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season.
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