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EJ Tackett tames the Pepsi PBA Scorpion Championship

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EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., continued to set a high standard for the PBA’s youth movement with victory in the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties.

The 25-year-old 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year picked up his ninth career title with a 245-207 victory over Australia’s Jason Belmonte in the Pepsi PBA Scorpion Championship presented by GoBowling.com.

The Scorpion Championship, the last of four PBA animal pattern championships conducted in November during the GEICO PBA WSOB IX aired Sunday on ESPN following the finals of the PBA Cheetah Championship. The back-to-back telecasts were part of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour package.

In the second match of the ESPN doubleheader, Tackett (above right) made his only WSOB IX television appearance count, striking on five of his first six shots and adding another string of three strikes late in his match against Belmonte (left), the two-handed Australian star who is the leading challenger to displace Tackett as PBA Player of the Year in 2017.

The win was Tackett’s fourth of the year, one ahead of Belmonte, but two of Belmonte’s titles are majors and he’ll have a shot at another one in next Sunday’s PBA World Championship finals.

Tackett not only realized where he stood compared to Belmonte in the competitive ranks, but he knew Belmonte was bowling at less than his physical best after an acute attack of food poisoning the night before.

“I found out Jason wasn’t feeling well, but before the first game, I told him to dig deep…and after the first match, I told him to just keep on going, and he did,” Tackett said. “I told him that we should finish the year on a high note, and we did. It could have gone either way.

“I knew the only chance I had (for Player of the Year) after the first few days here was to make this show and win,” Tackett added. “In my eyes, (Belmonte) wins by a landslide, but if he doesn’t win the (PBA World Championship), I think it’ll be a pretty close vote. It’s out of my hands.”

Belmonte’s 269 topped the preliminary shootout. Tackett was second with a 258 while Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio (above right; 242) and Shawn Maldonado of Houston, Texas (left; 225) were eliminated.

ESPN’s coverage of the Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s WSOB IX package continues on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST with the PBA World Championship finals that will feature Svensson, Belmonte, and three other PBA Tour titlists – Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C.; Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and rookie Matt Sanders of Evansville, Ind.

2017 PBA Scorpion Championship Finals

National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., USA (Nov. 18). ESPN delayed telecast aired on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 2 p.m. ET.

Championship Round:
1. EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 503 (2 games), $20,000
2. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 476 (2 games), $10,000
3. Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 242 (1 game), $5,000
4. Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 225 (1 game), $4,000

Playoff Results:
Shootout Round: Belmonte 269, Tackett 258, Novak 242, Maldonado 225
Novak and Maldonado eliminated.
Championship: Tackett def. Belmonte, 245-207.

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Herbert Bickel

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