February 7, 2008 19:00
Chris Barnes knows as well as anyone the only way to break a bad stretch of luck on television is to keep making the championship round.
Barnes defeated Sean Rash, four-games-to-one, Friday in the 2008 Bayer Classic Round of 8 at Oasis Lanes to advance to his fourth consecutive championship round and his Denny’s PBA Tour-high eighth of the season.
The eight finals appearances mark the most in a season for any bowler since Walter Ray Williams Jr. made 10 in 2002-03. But the eight-time titlist has yet to win a title this season, finishing second twice in his seven previous finals appearances.
Barnes finished second in last season’s Sun City Classic at Oasis Lanes and finished third here in 2005.
“It’s been mostly good here but I’d like for the ending to change. You have to be in the last chapter to be at the top,” Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) said. “Our format is what it is. If it was best of seven in the finals, my record would be different but it’s one game on TV. I have a third and a second here so hopefully I can keep getting one better.”
Barnes jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Rash despite averaging just 202. Rash came back to win game four but Barnes wrapped up the match with a 214-164 win in game five.
“The lanes were ugly tonight,” Barnes said. “They were really hard and with both of us playing so deep so early it wasn’t going to get much better. My game plan was to move to the right at some point, which I did the last game and thankfully I was able to get it done.”
Barnes will face his Tour roommate, Mika Koivuniemi, in a rematch of last season’s Sun City Classic title match. Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) broke a career-long 38-event winless streak with his 214-185 win over Barnes to capture his seventh career title. He won this season’s first event, the Dydo Japan Cup 2008, for his eighth. On Friday night Koivuniemi defeated Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.), 4-1.
The other semifinal features Mike DeVaney (San Diego) taking on Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.). DeVaney defeated rookie Rhino Page, who was looking to make his fourth championship round of the season, 4-2.
The 2005-06 PBA Player of the Year Jones, who is looking for his 12th career title and second of the season, defeated Tom Baker, 4-3, coming back from a 3-1 deficit.
DeVaney and Jones will roll off in the first match, followed by the rematch between Barnes and Koivuniemi.
The top four will bowl for the $25,000 top prize and an exemption for the 2008-09 season live on ESPN Sunday at 10:30 a.m. MT.
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