ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Chris Barnes and his Silver Lake Atom Splitters teammates swept the Philadelphia Hitmen in the final Professional Bowlers Association League semifinal match to earn a berth in the 2014 Elias Cup finals against Jason Belmonte and his L.A. X team.
The final semifinal round match at Thunderbowl Lanes aired Sunday on ESPN. The all-Los Angeles area battle for the Elias Cup will air on ESPN on Sunday, April 13, at 2 p.m. ET.
After finishing in sixth place among eight teams in the 2013 introductory PBA League season, the Atom Splitters, presented by Spiceworks and owned by Internet podcast innovator and television host Chris Hardwick, bolstered their 2014 lineup with the addition of former PBA Players of the Year Tommy Jones and Wes Malott, and won 11 of a possible 12 points in matches against the Dallas Strikers and the Hitmen, presented by High 5 Gear, to advance to the Elias Cup finals at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, N.J.
“Our team keeps getting better as we go,” Barnes said. “We’ll switch venues for the Elias Cup, which will have an impact. Carolier hooks a lot less than Thunderbowl does. As far as L.A. X’s fearless leader (Australian two-handed star Belmonte) is concerned, that’s not much of a deal, but I don’t know about the rest of their team. They have a lot of good shot-makers, but so do we. I think we’re down to the two strongest teams.”
“The Atom Splitters are a stacked team,” the L.A. X team leader said. “I feel our performance speaks for itself. If there’s a team that’s going to give (Silver Lake) a run for their money, it’s us.”
L.A. X, presented by GoBowling.com, eliminated the BROOKLYN STyLES and the defending Elias Cup champion New York City WTT KingPins in earning its berth in the Elias Cup finale.
Barnes gave Silver Lake a 1-0 lead by winning the singles match against Philadelphia franchise player Bill O’Neill. Barnes survived a 3-4-6-7-10 split in the sixth frame after throwing five strikes to start the game. After he failed to convert the split, he threw another string of four strikes for a 248-236 win.
In alternate ball doubles, Philadelphia’s Josh Blanchard and Ryan Ciminelli threw back-to-back strikes in the ninth and 10th frames to overcome the Atom Splitters’ one-pin lead, but Barnes and partner Bryon Smith answered with three strikes in their 10th frame to pull out a 228-226 win for a 2-0 lead.
Silver Lake’s Tommy Jones, Dom Barrett and Wes Malott started the Baker trios contest with six strikes, building a 53-pin lead, and held on for a 233-216 win over Ciminelli, O’Neill and Dan MacLelland for a 3-0 lead.
The Atom Splitters completed the sweep with a convincing 247-224 victory in the Baker team finale. Smith, Barnes, Barrett, Malott and Jones struck on eight of their first nine shots and Silver Lake never gave the Hitmen a chance.
“We’re five players deep,” Barnes said. “We didn’t bowl very well in our first match (against Dallas), but we survived that. We figured that was as bad as it could get, so we threw everyone back out there and it worked out. We just don’t like to lose. Ever.”
PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION LEAGUE SEMIFINAL MATCH TWO
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich.
Silver Lake Atom Splitters presented by Spiceworks def. Philadelphia Hitmen presented by High 5 Gear, 6-0.
Singles Match (one point)
Chris Barnes, Silver Lake Atom Splitters, def. Bill O’Neill, Philadelphia Hitmen, 248-236.
Alternate Ball Doubles (one point)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Chris Barnes/Bryon Smith) def. Philadelphia Hitmen (Ryan Ciminelli/Josh Blanchard), 228-226.
Baker Trios (one point)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Tommy Jones/Dom Barrett/Wes Malott) def. Philadelphia Hitmen (Ryan Ciminelli/Bill O’Neill/Dan MacLelland), 233-216.
Five-Man Baker Team (three points)
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Bryon Smith/Chris Barnes/Dom Barrett/Wes Malott/Tommy Jones) def. Philadelphia Hitmen (Dan MacLelland/Mike DeVaney/Josh Blanchard/Bill O’Neill/Ryan Ciminelli), 247-224.