Rash, LaCaze and Lynda Barnes Headline PBA Earl Anthony Memorial Finalists

by Jason Thomas January 15, 2010 17:46

DUBLIN, Calif. – Rookie Anthony LaCaze of Melrose Park, Ill., upset top qualifier Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., to advance to Sunday’s finals in the Professional Bowlers Association’s Earl Anthony Memorial at Earl Anthony’s Dublin Bowl Friday.

Sean Rash of Wichita, Kan., upset No. 2 qualifier Jason Belmonte of Australia, 4-2; Mike Machuga of Erie, Pa., defeated Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y., 4-2, and Mike Wolfe of New Albany, Ind., eliminated Stevie Weber of Chalmette, La., 4-0, in their best-of-seven-game matches to earn the other three men’s berths in Sunday’s finals.


Top qualifier Lynda Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, and Stefanie Nation of Grand Prairie, Texas, will meet for the women’s Earl Anthony Memorial title.


LaCaze, a 27-year-old former Saginaw Valley State University bowler, will make his second TV appearance. His first came as an amateur in the 2008 PBA Lake County Indiana Golden Anniversary Championship in Hammond, Ind. Despite a loss in his TV debut, “I made the decision that I wanted to bowl full-time as my career,” he said, “so I’m dedicating myself to being the best.”


LaCaze built a 3-0 lead over Jones, only to watch Jones rally to even the match.


“Tommy Jones is one of the best players in the PBA, a highly respected player,” LaCaze said. “But I never let up, never gave up. In the last game, I threw the ball well and I was able to capitalize on a couple of his mistakes.”


LaCaze ended the match with a 233-180 victory.


Rash, who won his first seven matches on television in winning his four career PBA Tour titles, has since experienced a four-match losing streak on TV, including two appearances earlier this season. But he isn’t concerned.


“I’m absolutely pleased with the way my season is going,” he said. “I made back-to-back TV shows during the World Series of Bowling in Detroit. I made every cut except one. When you get to TV, it’s a crap shoot. I started my career unbelievable with seven straight wins, but it catches up to you. All of the great players – Earl Anthony, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Norm Duke, Parker Bohn III - have had slumps on TV.


“When you’re out here, you want to win, but there are 63 other guys who can do it, too. I’m just hoping I can take care of business Sunday. Is there some added pressure? Absolutely,” Rash added. “I haven’t won since 2007. I have a tough match with Machuga and nothing’s a given in this game. But I’ve given myself another chance to win, and that’s what you want to do.”


Barnes, a San Francisco area favorite because of her childhood roots in nearby Concord, Calif., defeated Lindsay Baker of Amherst, N.Y., 4-2, and Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, 4-1, to advance to Sunday’s Women’s Series presented by BOWL.COM championship match.


“It was the coolest thing to turn around and see the whole bleachers full of family and friends from 30 years ago,” Barnes said. “It’s just a wonderful feeling to make a good shot and have everyone cheer. There’s nothing better than that.


“These girls are so good,” she added, referring to her competition. “To be able to compete with them is a great feeling. I just love to bowl. But getting this far is just half of it. There is still Sunday to go.”


Barnes will face an opponent who has unfinished business to attend to in the Anthony event. Nation was runner-up in the 2009 Earl Anthony Memorial women’s event, losing to Wendy Macpherson of Henderson, Nev. To get another chance at the Anthony title, Nation threw nine strikes in a row to close out Shannon Pluhowsky of Kettering, Ohio, 259-244, and win in her semifinal round match Friday, 4-3.


“I was down 3-0. I made a few ball changes. I figured I had nothing to lose,” Nation said. “I kind of got loosened up and, like usual, pins start to fall when that happens. But Shannon never gave up. It was do-or-die until the final frame.


“Last year didn’t end on a good note,” she continued, referring to her 10th frame loss to Macpherson. “It’s always in the back of your mind, but this is a brand-new tournament.


“In Detroit, I had a terrible time during the World Series of Bowling. I didn’t make a cut, so to come back out here with a fresh attitude and make the cut was huge. Sunday, it’ll be one shot at a time. Lynda will be a fighter, so I have to be on the top of my game.”


The Earl Anthony Memorial, the ninth event of the 2009-10 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season, is dedicated to the late superstar who was recognized as the greatest player in PBA history last January during the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration. Anthony, the first player in PBA history to earn $1 million, was a 43-time PBA Tour champion.


The finals will be televised live on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Pacific).


Earl Anthony’s Dublin Bowl, Dublin, Calif., Jan. 15


(best of seven games, losers eliminated and earned $4,600)
Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., def. Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 4-3
Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., def. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 4-2
Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., def. Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 4-2
Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., def. Stevie Weber, Chalmette, La., 4-0


(best of seven games, losers eliminated and earned $3,400)
Shafer def. Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 4-2
Machuga def. Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 4-3
Rash def. John Nolen, Grand Blanc, Mich., 4-1
Belmonte def. Andres Gomez, Colombia, 4-3
Wolfe def. Mike DeVaney, San Diego, 4-1
Weber def. PJ Haggerty, Clovis, Calif., 4-2
LaCaze def. Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 4-2
Jones def. Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 4-3


(best of seven games, losers eliminated and earned $2,500)
Scroggins def. Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., 4-1
LaCaze def. Mitch Beasley, Puyallup, Wash., 4-2
P. Allen def. Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 4-2
Weber def. Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 4-3
Haggerty def. Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 4-3
DeVaney def. Robert Smith, Columbus, Ohio, 4-0
Gomez def. Stuart Williams, England, 4-1
Rash def. Michael Haugen Jr., Carefree, Ariz., 4-1
Nolen def. Mika Koivuniemi, Howell, Mich., 4-2
Machuga def. Ritchie Allen, Columbia, S.C., 4-1
Angelo def. Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 4-2
Shafer def. Steve Harman, Indianapolis, 4-1




(best of seven games, losers eliminated and earned $4,000; winners advance to Sunday’s ESPN television finals)
Lynda Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, def. Jodi Woessner. Oregon, Ohio, 4-1
Stefanie Nation, Garden Prairie, Texas, def. Shannon Pluhowsky, Kettering, Ohio, 4-3


(best of seven games, losers eliminated and earned $2,500)
Barnes def. Lindsay Baker, Amherst, N.Y., 4-2
Nation def. Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 4-0
Pluhowsky def. Wendy Macpherson, Henderson, Nev., 4-1
Woessner def. Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 4-3

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