ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Chris Barnes and his Silver Lake Atom Splitters dominated Norm Duke and the Dallas Strikers to advance to the semifinal round of the Professional Bowlers Association League Elias Cup competition at Thunderbowl Lanes.
Behind a 205-185 victory in the five-man Baker team finale, Silver Lake, presented by Spiceworks, defeated Dallas, presented by the United States Bowling Congress, in a near-sweep, 5-1.
The third in a series of four single-elimination first-round matches in the eight-team PBA League competition aired Sunday on ESPN. One point was awarded to the winner in singles, doubles and trios matches, and three points were awarded to the Baker team winner.
In the singles match, Duke – the only PBA League competitor serving the dual role of team manager and team captain – pulled himself out of his match against Barnes after recording four single-pin spares and one strike in five frames while Barnes started with six strikes for a 52-pin lead. Duke replaced himself with left-hander Rhino Page to give Page more practice on the PBA League lane condition, but it didn’t matter. Barnes ran his string of strikes to nine before losing his bid for a perfect game. He left the 4-6-7 split in the 10th frame, but still won the singles point comfortably, 265-208.
Neither team could generate any momentum in alternate ball doubles. Silver Lake’s Barnes and Bryon Smith took a one-pin lead into the 10th frame where Duke struck and then converted Mike Machuga’s 3-6-9-10 leave. Smith needed a strike to clinch the win for Silver Lake, but left a 10 pin. Barnes converted the spare, but again needing a strike for a one-pin victory, Smith knocked down eight pins to hand Dallas the doubles point, 195-194.
The Atom Splitters, owned by “Nerdist” creator Chris Hardwick, won the Baker trios point, 213-184. Consecutive strikes by Dom Barrett, Wes Malott and Tommy Jones staked Silver Lake to a 31-pin lead after four frames. The Strikers, owned by NFL all-star receiver Terrell Owens, never mounted a threat, recording only three strikes through nine frames.
Dallas continued to struggle in the Baker team finale, failing to record back-to-back strikes until the seventh and eighth frames, but the Strikers still had a chance after Jones left the 2-8-10 split in the 10th frame. Page, anchoring for Dallas, needed three strikes to pull out a one-pin victory, but left a solid 7 pin on his first ball in the final frame.
“We weren’t very happy with how things ended last year,” Barnes said, referring to Silver Lake’s sixth-place finish in the PBAL’s inaugural season. “We didn’t bowl very well. When Mark (Baker) came in (as team manager), we talked about the new rules and made some key additions (former PBA Players of the Year Malott and Jones).
“It’s nothing against the guys we had before,” Barnes continued, “but we went from two really good players to a contending player of the year (Barrett) and two previous players of the year. We like our chances moving forward.”
The final quarterfinal round elimination match will pit actor/comedian Kevin Hart’s Philadelphia Hitmen presented by High 5 Gear, led by team captain Bill O’Neill, against Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley’s Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits presented by HotelPlanner.com, captained by Finland’s Osku Palermaa, on ESPN on Sunday, March 23, at 1 p.m. ET. The winner of the Hitmen-Jack Rabbits match will bowl the Silver Lake Atom Splitters on ESPN on Sunday, April 6, for right to advance to the Elias Cup finals.
PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL MATCH THREE
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich.
Silver Lake Atom Splitters presented by Spiceworks def. Dallas Strikers presented by United States Bowling Congress, 5-1.
Singles Match (one point)
Chris Barnes, Silver Lake Atom Splitters, def. Norm Duke/Rhino Page, Dallas Strikers, 265-208.
Alternate Ball Doubles (one point)
Dallas Strikers (Norm Duke/Mike Machuga) def. Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Chris Barnes/Bryon Smith), 195-194.
Baker Trios (one point)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Tommy Jones/Dom Barrett/Wes Malott) def. Dallas Strikers (Rhino Page/Amleto Monacelli/Dave Wodka), 213-184.
Five-Man Baker Team (three points)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Bryon Smith/Chris Barnes/Dom Barrett/Wes Malott/Tommy Jones) def. Dallas Strikers (Norm Duke/Mike Machuga/Amleto Monacelli/Dave Wodka/Rhino Page), 205-185.