Eoff Repeats with Another Stepladder Run
For the third consecutive year, the table was run in the stepladder finals of the MBA Masters. Defending Masters Champion Derek Eoff, the fourth qualifier, won four consecutive head to head matches to top a field of 35 entrants for the 2013-14 MBA Masters Title.
The event was the sixth annual Masters and was held February 1, 2014 at City Tournament host center Badger Bowl.
The tournament was held on the USBC Blue #1 pattern – the same as last year. Four honor counts were bowled in the tournament. Mike Helsell rolled a 299 opening game. Mark Newkirk followed with a 300 in game 2. That was it until match play when Eoff rolled an 822 set in his first three matches, which included a 300 game as well.
Scores were slightly off pace from last year’s event (+152 cash, +263 cut). This year +129 got paid … in this case split between Jeff Richgels and Mark Newkirk, and +222 made the stepladder final.
The field averaged just over 217 on the fresh condition, with Helsell’s opening 299 leading the pack, followed by Marc McDowell – 279, Brian Longfield – 269, Ron Blanchar – 268, and Herb Kimpel – 258. The cut to cash – 12th with 35 bowlers (1:3) – was +32 (Mark Mansur).
In game 2, the field average picked up to nearly 219. Tony Thaden climbed into the lead with a 503 total and only 10 pins separated the top five. McDowell – 500, Blanchar – 498, Helsell – 495, and Chris Gibbons – 493 rounded out the top five. The cut to cash rose to +55 (Jeff Richgels).
The scoring pace began a decline that would last through the rest of qualifying, with the field averaging just over 216 in game 3. Mike Hoffman rolled into first place with a 279 game and 748 start. He was followed by Blanchar – 743, Brent Ritche – 738, Thaden – 737, and Gibbons – 730. The cut to cash made its biggest jump of the day to +92 (Helsell, Pete Yelk).
After four games, the cut to stepladder made a big jump. Thaden retook the lead at 1016, a 254 average. Blanchar was second at 988, followed by Ritchie – 987, Hoffman – 983, and Chris Pollentier with a 977 on the strength of back to back 279 games. The cut to cash rose to +118 (Casey Gibney).
After five games, Thaden remained in first at 1262 and Hoffman moved up to second with a 270 game (1253). Ritchie was third at 1240, Pollentier fourth at 1220, and Kimpel fifth at 1207. The cut to cash leveled off at +121 (Mark Mansur).
Dramatic shifts were made in game five as four of the leaders failed to bowl over 200 in game six. Ritchie took the top qualifying spot with a 278 finish (1518), Hoffman held second at 1479, and Thaden stayed in the top five at 1454. Derek Eoff, previously eighth, moved up four spots with a 230 game (1427). Marc McDowell shot 224 in his final game to move from seventh to the fifth stepladder position. The cash number landed at +129, a tie between Mark Newkirk and Jeff Richgels.
In the first match, Eoff rolled over Marc McDowell 266-189. Mac could not get anything going early, and was facing a flurry of explosive strikes. Eoff sealed the deal in eight or nine frames and moved on to face the third high qualifier Tony Thaden. McDowell earned $180.00.
In the second match, Thaden opened the first two frames, and scrambled together a 195 game; inconsequential as Eoff was perfect and won the match 300-195. Thaden took home $200.00.
Once again, Eoff looked like he would never miss. Meanwhile, second qualifier Mike Hoffman did not carry particularly well early on, striking in only two of the first five frames. When Hoffman did eventually double, he continued on a great second half of a game and posted 239. By this time, though, Eoff only needed seven pins in the tenth for the win. Eoff prevailed 256-239. Hoffman was awarded $240.00.
The title match, though, is one that will not be soon forgotten. Both Eoff and tournament leader Brent Ritchie started the match with the first eight strikes. Ritchie “blinked” first in the ninth, ringing a solid 10 pin. Eoff followed with one of his own, then filled a strike and nine spare in the 10th frame – posting a 269. Ritchie’s first shot in the tenth was very good, but a seven pin avoided detection and remained. Ritchie earned $295.00 for his second place 267 game.
Congratulations to Derek Eoff, who won his second consecutive MBA Masters, $495.00, two tickets to the MBA Hall of Fame Dinner and Bowler Recognition ceremony in August, one ticket to the Dinner with the Champions in October, and the crystal Eagle Trophy.
Match 1: #4 Eoff def. #5 McDowell 266 – 189
Match 2: #5 Eoff def. #3 Thaden 300 – 195
Match 3: #5 Eoff def. #2 Hoffman 256 – 239
Match 4: #5 Eoff def. #1 Ritchie 269 – 267