Batavian James Townsend said he was extremely nervous during the eliminator finals of the 14th annual Triple O Mechanical Singles Handicap Tournament on Sunday at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen.
Judging by his prolific bowling, however, you wouldn’t have believed him as the 23-year-old strapping right-hander powered his way to the title, defeating veteran kegler Jerry Blair of Le Roy in the title match, 269-232.
Townsend received 11 pins handicap (based on his 212 average) while Blair – won earned $250 – received nine pins handicap (based on his 214 average). Strikes in the seventh, eighth, ninth and on the first two balls in the 10th frames sealed the victory for the Batavian.
The victory was worth $500 for Townsend, an employee in the automotive department at Walmart and a “graduate” of the Turnbull Heating Junior League at his hometown Mancuso Bowling Center.
“After I made the cut (qualifying 14th with a 717 series -- 684 scratch), I was tremendously nervous,” said Townsend, who has put in the time to improve his game over the past couple years. “I’ve been shaking this entire time.”
His jitters didn’t affect his performance as he continually put his high-revving bowling ball in the 1-3 pocket and struck at a high rate to advance through the four rounds of the finals.
His scratch scores in the finals were 238, 245, 259 and 258. In the first round, he struck out in the 10th frame to advance, edging John Martorella Sr. of Rochester by three pins.
“I’ve been working on making adjustments on the lane and I’m really starting to develop my game and get smooth at the line,” Townsend said. “Being able to get to the line so smoothly has been the key to developing my game. I slowed down my arm swing, my arm speed and my ball speed, and that’s helped me to focus on each shot.”
He credited his improvement to the instruction offered as a youth bowler by his father, Paul, and more recently, by Brian Green, owner of Striking Effects Pro Shop at Mancuso’s.
“They’ve helped me and, basically, everyone has been on my side and I thank everybody very much,” said Townsend, who noted that he “lit the place up” after switching to the Roto Grip Haywire ball for the 3 p.m. qualifying squad after failing to make the cut on the 12:30 squad.
Reaching the semifinals, and earning $125 apiece, were Devon Leach of Batavia and Mark Brown of Attica.
Quarterfinalists ($80 each) were defending champion Mickey Hyde of Le Roy, Mark Mack of Le Roy, Ricky Zinone of Rochester and Marty Lindner of Scottsville. Hyde was the high qualifier with 801 for three games (771 scratch).
Those eliminated in the first round ($50 apiece) were Martorella, Jeff Dewar of Rochester, Sam Oddo of Batavia, Frank Fitzmaurice of Rochester, Pat Bruton of Rochester, Jim Pursel of Batavia, Ken Wilson of Batavia and Don Perrault of Rochester.
Fitzmaurice rolled a 300 game in the USBC-certified tournament that drew 66 entrants. The top 16 earned prize money.
Photo: Tom Sardou, left, proprietor of Rose Garden Bowl, congratulates James Townsend, first place, and Jerry Blair, second place, following Sunday's Triple O Mechanical Singles Handicap Tournament. Photo by Mike Pettinella.