SHAWNEE, Okla. – Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., started the Professional Bowlers Association Wolf Open with the PBA’s 23rd nationally-televised 300 game and continued his strike barrage in winning his eighth career title in the opening event of Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort PBA Summer Swing at the Grand Event Center.
The first of five PBA Summer Swing events aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.
Rash, the 2011-12 PBA Player of the Year, threw 37 strikes out of a possible 48 attempts in defeating Chris Loschetter, 300-236; Martin Larsen, 225-221; Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, 241-214, and top qualifier Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, 238-179, in the title match. Rash won $10,000 plus a $10,000 bonus for his televised 300 game.
“It seems like forever (since my last title in the U.S.), but it’s only been two years since I won the Tournament of Champions,” Rash said. “Winning’s everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a parking lot in Alaska or wherever.”
Rash spoiled Loschetter’s 34th birthday when he threw his perfect game at the Avon, Ohio, resident and defending Wolf Open champion in the first match. It was the first nationally-televised perfect game since Barnes threw a 300 game at Rash and Australia’s Jason Belmonte in an elimination match in the 2011 PBA Shark Open finals during PBA World Series of Bowling III at South Point in Las Vegas.
“I was a little nervous because I had the front eight (strikes) a few years ago in Medford (Ore.) and I’ve had a few other chances,” Rash said. “You just want to make a good shot to give yourself a chance. It was a great feeling, one of those you’ll never forget.”
In the second match, an unconverted 4-6-7 split by Sweden’s Larsen in the sixth frame allowed Rash to stay close, and a 4 pin on Larsen’s first shot in the 10th frame gave Rash a chance to win. Working on a strike in the ninth frame, Rash added three more in the 10th frame for a come-from-behind 225-221 victory.
“All you can ask for in situations like that is a chance,” Rash said. “If (Larsen) strikes on that first shot in the 10th, my day is over. But I still had to double. You just have to put yourself in the right frame of mind. You have to go through the process because once you let go of the ball, you have no control over the end result. Fortunately it turned out the right way for me.”
In the semifinal match, Fagan struggled with pin carry, throwing only three strikes in the first eight frames while Rash struck on eight of his first nine shots on his way to a 241-214 victory. In the title match, Rash continued to pound the pocket while Barnes never built any momentum.
“Fagan and (Larsen) both threw urethane balls and I think it backfired on them,” Rash noted. “They didn’t have the hold and the look they had in the preliminary round at FireLake (Bowling Center, where preliminary rounds were conducted). I think if Barnes had a re-do, he’d probably throw a different ball, but the ball he threw (at FireLake) got him into the lead and he ran away from the field. He has a lot of confidence in that ball.”
While Rash’s strikes were key to his victory, the deciding factor actually was his spare shooting. He had only two open frames in four games – one a split, one a chopped 6-10 spare attempt.
“When the scoring pace is high, you can’t miss the pocket, but you also have to fill frames,” he said. “The one thing I’m proud about this week is that I bowled 52 games and missed four spares. That’s what I really work on at home. I don’t practice throwing strikes very much.”
With his win in the Wolf Open, Rash claimed the first berth in the Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort King of the Swing special event that will conclude the Summer Swing.
Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort PBA Summer Swing continues next Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network with the finals of the PBA Bear Open. Bear finalists include top qualifier Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C.; Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa.; Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind.; Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., and Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C.
CBS Sports Network is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 221 and Dish Network Channel 158. For more information, including a full programming schedule and how to get CBS Sports Network, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com.
Pre-game shows for each PBA Summer Swing event will be posted on PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame and on PBA’s YouTube page on Monday’s prior to the telecast. Post-game shows will air on Xtra Frame and YouTube following each telecast. Complete coverage of each event will be archived on Xtra Frame seven days after the original air date.
2014 PBA WOLF OPEN
Grand Casino Resort Event Center, Shawnee, Okla.
Final Standings: 1, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., $10,000. 2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $5,000. 3, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, $4,000. 4, Martin Larsen, Sweden, $3,500. 5, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, $3,000.
Playoff Results: Match One – Rash def. Loschetter, 300-236. Match Two – Rash def. Larsen, 225-221. Semifinal Match – Rash def. Fagan, 241-214. Championship – Rash def. Barnes, 238-179.