IF YOU TUNED IN to the CBS Sports Network to watch the live telecast of the finals of the U.S. Open at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, you saw what happens when a bowler has the best of both worlds -- ball recovery to the pocket on shots outside the optimum target line and hold in the middle of the lane on shots inside of the mark.
Canadian Francois Lavoie was the bowler, and the 23-year-old right-hander took full advantage by rolling a 300 game -- the first perfect game ever in the stepladder finals of the U.S, Open -- en route to capturing the coveted crown and $30,000 top prize.
In winning his first Professional Bowlers Association title, Lavoie, a former collegiate champion at Wichita State, defeated Shawn Maldonado of Houston, 300-211, in the semifinal match before knocking off top-seeded Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., 228-194, in the championship match.
The Quebec City resident is the second foreign-born player to win the U.S. Open, joining Mika Koivuniemi of Finland (2001).
It was evident from the outset that Lavoie (the commentators said he weighed 120 pounds) was going to be tough to beat. Playing around the second arrow with just enough revs to ensure a high carry percentage, Lavoie struck on 17 consecutive shots -- all 12 against Maldonado for a $10,000 bonus -- and the front five against Kent, who had dominated the tournament during qualifying and match play.
Lavoie's lost his line in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames of the title match, but converted a 3-4-6-10 split in the eighth to hold off Kent.
News reports this morning about the way the lanes played backed up what viewers saw last night -- that Lavoie's Storm bowling ball (I think it was an Alpha Crux) enabled him to play farther to the right than his opponents on the 42-foot oil pattern.
“Looking at the lane graph, it was definitely tricky, but there was some shape to the right,” Lavoie said. “When a pattern as hard as this gives you some kind of shape, you need to take advantage of it, so that’s where I tried to play until something developed. There was some friction built into the pattern, so I was able to miss right a little bit and get it to hook early, and we had urethane going down the lane to the left, which gave me some hold. It really was the best of both worlds.”
Maldonado made it to the semifinals by winning the first two matches of the show -- 238-217 over Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, and 190-188 over North Tonawanda's John Szczerbinski. Kent earned $15,000; Maldonado $12,000; Simonsen $10,000, and Szczerbinski $8,000.
BETTER, FOSS, LOGAN ROLL 800 SERIES
A PAIR OF LOCAL "household names" and a bowler who prefers to fly under the radar registered 800 series in Genesee Region USBC league action over the past week.
On Nov. 2 at Mount Morris Lanes, Shawn Better, a 24-year-old right-hander from Mount Morris, posted an 833 series on games of 266-267-300 in the Wednesday Night Classic League.
The next night, Curtis Foss, a 29-year-old righty from Medina, recorded 264-244-300--808 in the Firefighters League at his hometown Medina Lanes.
Last season, Foss recorded six United States Bowling Congress-certified 300 games and a pair of 800 series, while Better had three perfect games and an 800 series.
On Nov. 7, Bill Logan of Albion rolled an 814 series, his first 800, in the Sneezy's Monday Night League at his hometown Oak Orchard Bowl. His games on lanes 9-10 for the Christ Farms team were 245-279-290.
The 66-year-old right-hander said he his game has improved since picking up a second league after retiring recently from the Village of Albion highway department.
"I started bowling on Thursday nights in Albion, and it has helped," said Logan, who matched his previous high of 290 with 11 strikes after an opening frame spare. He also had 11 strikes in the second game.
He said he used a Roto-Grip Disturbed bowling ball for his big series.
"I just pulled it out of the closet a week ago and bowled a 727 with it last Thursday," he said. "It works great on wood lanes, and I hope it works in Perry (at the GRUSBC Senior Masters on Saturday)."
Logan said he doesn't pay attention to the scores that much, but bowls for the fun and camaradarie that the sport provides. He said he chose the crystal award given by the USBC for his first-ever 800 series.
TOURNAMENTS SET FOR BATAVIA, PERRY, BERGEN THIS WEEKEND
MIKE SPUTORE, manager of Mancuso Bowling Center, says he and his staff are hoping for a large number of Western New York bowlers over the next two weekends who will attempt to qualify for spots on the Beat the Champ TV show.
"We're figuring we'll get a bunch of the local bowlers this weekend, and see a greater turnout (from Buffalo and Rochester) next weekend," Sputore said.
The first two of 10 qualifying squads are scheduled for 5 and 7 p.m. Friday (tomorrow) night -- with the remaining eight set for Nov. 18-20. The entry fee is $30.
The top 24 bowlers (three games, scratch) will advance to the semifinals next Sunday, where the top nine bowlers who make the show will be determined.
Those 10 bowlers will come back to Mancuso's on Nov. 30 for the taping of three shows, which will be televised on WBBZ-TV (MeTV) over three Saturdays in December.
A fourth Beat the Champ show -- expected to be shown on Dec. 31 -- will feature the four mixed doubles teams that competed in a special tournament last weekend. Those teams will take part in a stepladder, Baker-style event (also scheduled to be taped on Nov. 30). Baker style is where one person bowls a frame and the other person bowls the next frame, and so on.
The four teams who will be appearing on the show are Chris and Jen Bardol of Brockport (top seed), Frank Jarkiewicz and Laurie Morgante of Bergen (No. 2 seed), Rich and Jen Wagner of Batavia (No. 3 seed) and Mark and Penny Brown of Attica (No. 4 seed).
-- Mancuso's is hosting a three-person, no-tap tournament this Saturday in memory of Brian Morasco, a lifelong Batavian (and former Mancuso's employee) who passed away in August.
First place, based on 48 entries, is $750, and the entry fee is $75 per team. Ten dollars of each entry will go to Genesee Cancer Assistance, which also will benefit from several basket raffle proceeds. To enter, call 716-474-7960 or 585-343-1319.
-- Also on Saturday, Perry Bowling Center will host the 11th annual Genesee Region USBC Senior Masters tournament, a scratch singles event for men and women at least 50 years old. First place, based on 48 entries, is $300, and the entry fee is $30.
Qualifying squad times are scheduled for 1 and 2:30 p.m. The top 12 bowlers will advance to the finals at 4 p.m. To enter, call 585-202-6458.
-- Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen is hosting the 9th annual Triple O Mechanical Singles Handicap tournament this Sunday and plenty of openings remain on all three squads -- 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
First place, based on 48 entries, is $500, and the entry fee is $30. The event features incentives for seniors 55-and-over, 65-and-over and women. To enter, call 585-343-3736.
TOURNAMENT RESULTS FROM MOUNT MORRIS, LE ROY
Three Dansville residents captured age group titles at the Gladys Ford Memorial Women's Senior event at Mount Morris Lanes last weekend.
Marion Leven won Class A (70-74) with 652 with handicap, Gail Riley placed first in Class B (65-69) with 655 and Karen Henry topped the list in Class C (60-64) with 646.
Other winners were Caroline Appleby of Warsaw in Class AA (75-and-over) with 662, Kay Ecker of Albion in Class D (55-59) with 644 and Joann Van Duser of Perry in Class E (50-54) with 637.
Forty-nine women competed in the Genesee Region USBC tournament.
In ther first GRUSBC Adult-Junior Team tournament on Oct. 29 at Legion Lanes in Le Roy, teams from Batavia and Perry placed first and second, respectively.
The Batavia squad of youth bowlers Corinne Saluste and Tara Clattenburg, and adults Eric Saluste and Michelle Clattenburg finished in first place to win a combined $448 in scholarship money and cash, while the Perry team of youth bowlers Allie Faryna and Dennis Van Duser, and adults Brett Van Duser and Matt Slocum was the runner-up, winning a combined $300.
GENESEE REGION YOUTH TRAVEL LEAGUE UPDATE
BATAVIA STRIKE FORCE, paced by a 638 series from James Townsend, defeated Oak Orchard II by a 17-2 score to move into first place after two weeks of the Genesee Region Youth Travel League.
The Batavia team holds a one-point edge over Perry Bowling Center, which got a 616 from Dennis Van Duser in a 15-4 win over Rose Garden II in action at Perry Bowling Center.
Other high scores for the week were Sam Miller's 618 and Emma Miller's 502 for Batavia X-Factor and Paige Snook's 482 series for Oak Orchard I.
The league bowls again this Sunday afternoon at Oak Orchard Bowl.
Congratulations to Skylar Laesser, a GR Youth Travel League member, on his 707 series last Saturday in the Turnbull Heating Junior program at Mancuso's. Skylar's big series was highlighted by a "front 10 strike" middle game of 288.
(Mike Pettinella’s Pin Points column appears every other Thursday on The Batavian, the region’s No. 1 source for online news. To advertise on this page, contact Mike at [email protected]. Note: The next column will be published on Friday, Nov. 25 -- the day after Thanksgiving).