ALLEN PARK, Mich. – A clutch ninth-frame spare by reigning Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year Jason Belmonte followed by three equally clutch 10th frame strikes in the Baker team finale by Parker Bohn III gave L.A. X a 5-1 victory over the defending PBA League champion New York City WTT KingPins and a berth in the 2014 Elias Cup finals.
The first PBA League semifinal round match at Thunderbowl Lanes aired Sunday on ESPN. The second semifinal match will pit actor/comedian Kevin Hart’s Philadelphia Hitmen, led by captain Bill O’Neill, against the Silver Lake Atom Splitters, owned by “Nerdist” creator Chris Hardwick and led by captain Chris Barnes, on ESPN on Sunday, April 6, at 1 p.m. ET. The Elias Cup finals will air on ESPN on Sunday, April 13, at 2 p.m. ET.
The Baker team game, worth a decisive three points in the PBA League elimination competition, was a three-pin contest when Belmonte left the 3-4-7-10 split in the ninth frame, and converted the difficult spare. The spare forced New York City captain Pete Weber to double in the 10th frame to take the lead, but Weber left a 4 pin on his first ball, giving L.A. X. a chance. Bohn, needing a mark and good count, struck out for a 218-204 win to send Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul’s team to the Elias Cup finals.
The win was redemption for the Los Angeles-based team that missed a trip to the 2013 finals by two points. It probably wouldn’t have happened if Belmonte hadn’t converted the split he left in the ninth frame.
“I wasn’t too confident; that was an interesting looking spare,” the Australian two-handed player said. “I didn’t know whether to hook it or throw my spare ball, but I threw my spare ball straight at it and it paid off.
“We get one shot on each lane in team event and I went through the nose on that lane in practice, so when we came back to that lane, I made a five-board move left and threw it really good,” he said of the shot that resulted in the split. “I thought it was a strike off my hand, but then I saw it hook and there were grandma’s teeth staring at me.”
L.A. X is now ready for whichever opposing team advances to the Elias Cup finals.
“We wanted to improve on our position from last year. Our goal was to play in the finals,” Belmonte said. “We accomplished that today. I’m stoked. We gelled as a team. We lifted each other. We made spares when we had to. We struck out when we had to. It wasn’t just one guy. We have a great team.”
In the singles game between team captains to start the match, Belmonte claimed the first point for L.A. X with a 234-208 victory over Weber. The decisive shot was Weber’s pocket 7-10 split in the ninth frame.
L.A. X added its second point on a near-perfect performance by Mika Koivuniemi and Bohn in a 299-216 romp in alternate-ball doubles. The perfect game was spoiled when Bohn left a 10 pin on the team’s 12th shot.
The KingPins, owned by women’s sports icon Billie Jean King and presented by GEICO, averted a sweep with a 249-235 come-from-behind win in the Baker trios game. L.A. X, presented by GoBowling.com, was cruising behind Belmonte, Andres Gomez and PBA Rookie of the Year E.J. Tackett until Tackett failed to convert the 10 pin in the ninth frame. New York City’s Stuart Williams struck in the ninth and anchor Scott Norton threw three strikes in the 10th to claim the trios point.
PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION LEAGUE SEMIFINAL MATCH ONE
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich.
L.A. X presented by GoBowling.com def. New York City WTT KingPins presented by GEICO, 5-1.
Singles Match (one point)
Jason Belmonte, L.A. X, def. Pete Weber, New York City WTT KingPins, 234-208.
Alternate Ball Doubles (one point)
L.A. X (Mika Koivuniemi/Parker Bohn III) def. New York City WTT KingPins (John Szczerbinski/Pete Weber/sub Stuart Williams), 299-216.
Baker Trios (one point)
New York City WTT KingPins (Scott Norton/Jake Peters/Stuart Williams) def. L.A. X (Jason Belmonte/Andres Gomez/E.J. Tackett), 249-235.
Five-Man Baker Team (three points)
L.A. X (Mika Koivuniemi/E.J. Tackett/Andres Gomez/Jason Belmonte/Parker Bohn III) def. New York City WTT KingPins (Stuart Williams/Jake Peters/John Szczerbinski/Scott Norton/Pete Weber), 218-204.