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Matt O’Grady first pick of 2018 PBA League draft


Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., fresh off his first PBA Tour victory in last week’s PBA Tournament of Champions, was the first of 16 PBA members drafted Saturday at Woodland Bowl as the eight PBA League teams filled out their rosters for the 2018 PBA League Elias Cup competition April 20-22 at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine.

Pictured above from left to right: Matt O’Grady, Bill O’Neill and Randy Pedersen.

The PBA League draft, held in Woodland Bowl’s Beer Thirty Lounge, began with OceanView at Falmouth Brooklyn Styles’ manager Johnny Petraglia, selecting O’Grady, a 31-year-old former Junior Team USA member, from a list of 49 eligible players.

“Matt has really dedicated himself the last six months,” Petraglia said. “He’s really stepped it up, worked hard to get himself into stape, and he’s a great competitor. He’s in a really good place and he’ll be a great addition to our team.”

“I’m elated,” O’Grady said. “I’ve never been selected (for PBA League competition) before and I know the atmosphere is something I’ll thrive in. I’m over the moon.”

O’Grady, who tends to exhibit his excitement in competition, will feel at home in the Bayside Bowl environment which traditionally features a full house of boisterous, exuberant fans.

Following O’Grady, Barbasol Motown Muscle manager Del Ballard Jr. picked Japan PBA star Shota Kawazoe, the No. 5 qualifier for Sunday’s Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic finals and another PBA League rookie. Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen manager Jason Couch also picked a PBAL first-timer, 2017 PBA Rookie of the Year Matt Sanders of Indianapolis.

PBA League veterans selected in the first round of picks included BJ Moore of Greensburg, Pa., by GEICO NYC WTT KingPins manager Carolyn Dorin-Ballard; Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic top qualifier Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ariz., by bowlingball.com L.A. X manager Andrew Cain; Dick Allen of Columbia, S.C., by Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters manager Mark Baker; DJ Archer of Friendswood, Texas, by Port Properties Portland manager Tim Mack, and, with the final pick of the first round, Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., by two-time defending champion Shipyard Brewing Dallas Strikers player-manager Norm Duke.

The final round of selections saw more members of the PBA’s youth movement getting a chance to experience PBA League competition for the first time: Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y., with the KingPins; AJ Johnson of Oswego, Ill., with the Atom Splitters; Thailand’s Yannaphon Larpapharat with the hometown Portland Lumberjacks, and, with the final pick of the draft, Kyle Sherman of O’Fallon, Mo., with the Strikers.

“The PBA League has become so popular, and there are so many talented players who deserve to bowl in the league, you can’t help but be disappointed if you don’t get picked,” said PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark. “The only thing we can do at this point is encourage our players to keep trying. Remember that seven first-time players were selected this year.”

The draft order was in reverse order of how teams finished last year, beginning with the No. 8 OceanView Brooklyn Styles, followed by Barbasol Motown Muscle, GEICO NYC WTT KingPins, bowlingball.com L.A. X, Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen, Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom-Splitters, Port Property Portland Lumberjacks and the two-time defending champion Shipyard Brewery Dallas Strikers.

The complete rosters for 2018, beginning with the three players each manager had earlier protected from his/her 2017 roster and followed by players drafted Saturday, includes the following:

  • OceanView at Falmouth Brooklyn Styles (manager Johnny Petraglia): Parker Bohn III, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Sean Rash, Matt O’Grady, Jason Sterner.
  • Barbasol Motown Muscle (manager Del Ballard Jr.): EJ Tackett, Francois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen, Shota Kawazoe, Josh Blanchard.
  • GEICO NYC WTT KingPins (manager Carolyn Dorin-Ballard): Pete Weber, Marshall Kent, Sam Cooley, BJ Moore, Anthony Pepe.
  • bowlingball.com L.A. X (manager Andrew Cain): Jason Belmonte, Stuart Williams, Martin Larsen, Jakob Butturff, Osku Palermaa.
  • Sysco Philadelphia Hitmen (manager Jason Couch): Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood, Ronnie Russell, Matt Sanders, Chris Loschetter.
  • Go Bowling! Silver Lake Atom Splitters (manager Mark Baker): Chris Barnes, Jesper Svensson, Tom Daugherty, Dick Allen, AJ Johnson.
  • Port Property Portland Lumberjacks (manager Tim Mack): Ryan Ciminelli, Wes Malott, Kyle Troup, DJ Archer, Yannaphon (JoJo) Larpapharat.
  • Shipyard Dallas Strikers: player-manager Norm Duke, Tommy Jones, Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, Kyle Sherman.

The PBA returns to Portland in April. After the PBA Xtra Frame Maine Shootout April 17-18 (a PBA Tour title event), all PBAL teams will bowl an eight-game Baker format “seeding tournament” on April 20.

The PBAL quarterfinals will take place on April 21 with the No. 1 seeded team vs. No. 8 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 on the first ESPN show that airs on April 22, followed by team No. 2 vs. No. 7, and No. 3 vs. No. 6 in the show that will air on April 29. Semifinal and Elias Cup final matches will be contested on April 22 to air on ESPN on May 6 and 13, respectively.

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Herbert Bickel

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