Bowling News USA - March 23, 2014 Hitmen Advance in PBA League Action
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Bill O’Neill and his Philadelphia Hitmen recorded the first sweep in the 2014 Professional Bowlers Association League Elias Cup eliminations, knocking the Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits out of the tournament at Thunderbowl Lanes and atoning for a disappointing finish to their 2013 campaign.
A 235-225 victory in the five-man Baker team finale completed Philadelphia’s 6-0 sweep of the singles, alternate ball doubles, Baker trios and Baker team competition and landed the Hitmen, owned by actor/comedian Kevin Hart, a berth in the semifinal round against the Silver Lake Atom Splitters. The battle of Pennsylvania, the fourth and final single-elimination quarterfinal round match in the eight-team PBA League competition, aired Sunday on ESPN.
It was a redeeming performance for the Hitmen, presented by High 5 Gear, who were in position to make the Elias Cup finals in 2013 only to fade in the final qualifying round to finish sixth.
“It bothered me a lot that we did as bad as we did last year,” O’Neill said. “We had a bad last day. If we had avoided that, we would have been fine. But we’re back this year with a couple of different guys and it’s turned out well because they’ve done nothing but strike so far. We didn’t lose a game, so that’s about as good as it gets.
“Now we have the supposed ‘dream team’ next, so hopefully we’ll be able to beat their butts,” O’Neill added, referring to a Silver Lake team loaded with past PBA Players of the Year Chris Barnes, Tommy Jones and Wes Malott as well as 2013 POY contender Dom Barrett and 2003 USBC Masters champion Bryon Smith.
O’Neill started the sweep of the Jack Rabbits, presented by HotelPlanner.com, with a 215-212 win in the singles match against Jack Rabbits’ team captain Osku Palermaa, taking advantage of a pair of splits and open frames by the Finnish two-handed player in the second and third frames. Palermaa recovered from his mistakes with a string of five strikes. Needing two strikes in the 10th frame to complete his rally, he left a 10 pin on his first shot.
Dan MacLelland and Ryan Ciminelli kept the Philadelphia momentum rolling in the alternate ball doubles match, striking on eight of their first nine shots en route to a 257-239 win over Pittsburgh’s Ronnie Russell and Eugene McCune.
The Jack Rabbits, owned by newly-signed Oakland Raiders all-pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley, never wilted, however. In the Baker trio match, Philadelphia’s O’Neill, Blanchard , DeVaney again set a torrid pace, striking on eight of their first nine shots, but led by only one pin heading into ninth frame. O’Neill’s spare in the 10th gave Palermaa a chance to win for Pittsburgh with two strikes in his final frame, but he left the 4-9 split to end the threat and Philadelphia won, 256-251.
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