ALLEN PARK, Mich. – L.A. X, with key strikes from Jason Belmonte and Parker Bohn III in the ninth and 10th frames of the Baker team match, defeated the BROOKLYN STyLES, 237-215, and advanced to the semifinal round of the Professional Bowlers Association League Elias Cup competition at Thunderbowl Lanes.
The first quarterfinal round single-elimination match in the 2014 PBA League series aired Sunday on ESPN.
With its win in the five-man Baker team event, Los Angeles-based L.A. X, owned by Los Angeles Clippers all-star guard Chris Paul and presented by GoBowling.com, earned three points for a 4-2 victory over the STyLES (owned by actor Jesse Williams and presented by Concrete Software’s PBA Bowling Challenge), and will meet the winner of the match between the defending Elias Cup champion New York City WTT KingPins, sponsored by GEICO, and Motown Muscle, sponsored by Barbasol, in the semifinal round. The KingPins vs. Muscle contest will air next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. The semifinal round winner will advance to the Elias Cup finals which will be contested on Feb. 23 at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, N.J.
L.A. X, which was eliminated from Elias Cup contention in 2013 by a modest two points, didn’t forget last season’s close call.
“We came into this tournament wanting to do better than last year and we’re on our way to doing that,” Belmonte said. “We’re a very close-knit team even though we’re quite diverse, but I felt like we really gelled.
“Last year was last year,” the newly-named 2012-13 PBA Player of the Year said. “When 2014 rolled around, that’s the only year that matters to us. What happened last year is irrelevant. We just wanted to make sure we performed well, and we’ll see what happens.”
L.A. X claimed the first point when team captain Belmonte defeated Brooklyn team captain Sean Rash, 255-223, in a singles contest. Belmonte took the lead after Rash left the 4-6-7 split in the second frame and failed to convert, and Rash was unable to recover.
The STyLES tied the match when PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Jason Sterner nipped Mika Koivuniemi and Parker Bohn III, 238-234, in alternate-ball doubles. The second frame again was key when Bohn, a left-hander, left the 7 pin and Koivuniemi, a right-hander, failed to convert the spare. Brooklyn put together a string of five strikes to take the lead, but Sterner left a 10 pin on in the 10th frame, giving L.A. X a chance to double for the win. Bohn struck on the first shot, but Koivuniemi left a 10 pin to hand Brooklyn the point.
In the Baker-format trios match, where three players bowled alternate frames, Rash, Tom Smallwood and Williams combined for seven strikes on their first nine shots in cruising to a 247-218 win over L.A. X’s Belmonte, E.J. Tackett and Andres Gomez for a 2-1 lead.
The Baker Team finale, worth three points, involved all five players bowling two frames each. Belmonte’s strike in the ninth frame gave Bohn a chance to strike to lock up the win and move his team into the semifinal round.
“Jason set me up with his strike in the ninth,” Bohn said. “At that point, we couldn’t be shut out. I knew it was a matter of making a quality shot and fortunately I was able to make a perfect shot.”
Bohn hasn’t done a great deal of team bowling during his career, but he said he called upon his experiences bowling in the old American Bowling Congress Team Challenge program when it came time.
“Our team has great karma,” Bohn said of his L.A. X team. “These guys put me in the same kind of situation I was in back in the old Team Challenge days when they asked me to bowl anchor. That’s what was going through my mind, even though it’s 20 years later and fortunately I was able to deliver.
“We were short (by two points) a year ago and we weren’t happy about that,” he added. “We made some changes to our team, and so far they’ve worked out. I don’t see why they won’t continue to work out moving forward.”
PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION LEAGUE MATCH ONE
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich.
L.A. X presented by GoBowling.com def. BROOKLYN STyLES presented by Concrete Software PBA Bowling Challenge, 4-2.
Singles Match (one point)
Jason Belmonte, L.A. X, def. Sean Rash, BROOKLYN STyLES, 255-223.
Alternate Ball Doubles (one point)
BROOKLYN STyLES (Jason Sterner/Walter Ray Williams Jr.) def. L.A. X (Mika Koivuniemi/Parker Bohn III), 238-234.
Baker Trios (one point)
BROOKLYN STyLES (Sean Rash/Tom Smallwood/Walter Ray Williams Jr.) def. L.A. X (Jason Belmonte/E.J. Tackett/Andres Gomez), 247-218.
Five-Man Baker Team (three points)
L.A. X (Mika Koivuniemi/E.J. Tackett/Andres Gomez/Jason Belmonte/Parker Bohn III) def. BROOKLYN STyLES (Jason Sterner/Tom Smallwood/Michael Haugen Jr./Walter Ray Williams Jr./Sean Rash), 237-215.