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“Dead Money” upsets PBA Stars to win PBA Team Challenge


“Dead Money” is a poker term related to the money left in the pot by players who have folded. It also is the name a team of five relatively untested bowlers gave themselves before upsetting a highly-decorated team of Professional Bowlers Association stars in the inaugural PBA Team Challenge at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas Sunday.

L-R McEwan, Cavagnaro, Pepe, O’Grady and McNiel.

The PBA Team Challenge, a first-of-its-kind five-player team competition for the sport’s most talented players, was conduct as part of the multi-event South Point Bowling Plaza Fall Classic.

Dead Money featured a lineup including PWBA Tour Championship winner Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., who stepped into the lineup to replace injured Alex Aguiar (who came up with the team name); one-time PBA Regional winners Alex Cavagnaro of Massapequa, N.Y., and Matt O’Grady of Matawan, N.J.; one-time PBA Tour winner Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y., and 30-year-old PBA rookie Matt McNiel of Prior Lake, Minn., who made his PBA Tour debut during the Fall Classic.

With McNiel bowling anchor, Dead Money put together a string of six strikes to take a 249-234 lead after the first game of the two-game Baker format title match and locked up a 497-452 victory by out-bowling “4 Majors and 100 at 1” in the second game, 248-218.

Combined, the five Dead Money players have won one PBA Tour title. The top-seeded “4 Majors and 100 at 1” own a combined 46 titles including PBA Tour major championship by Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa.; Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C.; Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, and Jason Belmonte of Australia.

Tom Daugherty of Wesley Chapel, Fla., the fifth team member, is known for bowling a nationally-televised 100 game in “one” major – the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions.

“We all kind of grew up together bowling in Junior Gold and other tournaments, and we’re good friends,” McNiel said of his team’s chemistry. “The big thing for us was throwing good shots and having a good time, and we had a blast.”

In the first match, 900 Global Phoenix, with a lineup featuring four past or current Arizona State University collegiate bowlers plus Phoenix-based Michael Haugen Jr., a four-time PBA Tour winner, eliminated Team Brunswick in the first two-game Baker format match, 471-411. PBA rookie Jakob Butturff, a 21-year-old lefthander, threw seven strikes in eight attempts as 900 Global’s anchor bowler.

Dead Money then ousted 900 Global, rallying from a 43-pin deficit after game one with a 278 game to win the match, 493-484. McNiel threw two strikes in the 10th frame to lock up Dead Money’s comeback.

The round-robin match play competition leading into the stepladder finals included a Baker format 300 game by Team Brunswick’s Walter Ray Williams Jr., Sean Rash, Tom Smallwood, Jason Sterner and anchor bowler Parker Bohn III, the all-time leader in 300 games bowled in PBA competition (104).

Williams, Rash, Smallwood and Sterner each threw two strikes. Bohn struck in the fifth frame and completed the perfect game with the final three strikes in the 10th.

The PBA Fall Classic concludes with the South Point PBA50 West Open Monday. Monday’s event will be covered live, exclusively on PBA’s online video-streaming service, Xtra Frame.

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900 Global Phoenix tops PBA Team Challenge Qualifying

2015 PBA Team Challenge

South Point Bowling Plaza, Las Vegas, Nev., USA (Oct. 24-25, 2015)

Championship Round:
1, Dead Money (Danielle McEwan, Alex Cavagnaro, Matt O’Grady, Anthony Pepe, Matt McNiel), $30,000
2, 4 Majors & 100 at 1 (Bill O’Neill, Tom Daugherty, Tommy Jones, Wes Malott, Jason Belmonte), $15,000
3, 900 Global Phoenix (Michael Haugen Jr., Russ Oviatt, Ben Canfield, Andrew Cain, Jakob Butturff), $10,000
4, Team Brunswick (Walter Ray Williams Jr., Jason Sterner, Tom Smallwood, Sean Rash, Parker Bohn III), $7,500

Playoff Results: (two-game, Baker format total pinfall)
First Match: 900 Global Phoenix def. Team Brunswick, 471-411
Semifinal Match: Dead Money def. 900 Global Phoenix, 493-484
Championship: Dead Money def. 4 Majors and 100 in 1, 497-452.

Final Match Play Standings:
Teams with match play record and 26 team-games total, including 50 bonus pins for each two-game Baker format match won; top 4 advance to the stepladder finals

1, 4 Majors & 100 at 1, 5-1, 12,894
2, Dead Money, 2-4, 12,847
3, 900 Global Phoenix, 2-4, 12,763
4, Team Brunswick, 4-2, 12,696

Missed Cut:
5, Playin’ On House Money (DJ Archer, Josh Blanchard, Dino Castillo, Rob Gotchall, Shawn Maldonado), 4-2, 12,549, $2,500
6, Yee Yee Nation (Marshall Kent, Chris Loschetter, Rhino Page, Ronnie Russell, EJ Tackett), 1-5, 12,036, $2,500

Baker Format 300 Game: Team Brunswick.

Herbert Bickel

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