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Four-time PBA50 Player of the Year and Roto Grip staffer Tom Baker converted a spare and then bowled a nine-count on his fill ball in the 10th frame of the championship match to win the PBA50 Greater Birmingham Open presented by Ebonite by one pin Wednesday at Lightning Strikes Lanes.

The PBA Hall of Famer defeated 10-time PBA Tour titlist Bryan Goebel of Shawnee, Kan., 227-226, in the title match for his 10th career PBA50 Tour title and his first since winning the PBA Senior Pepsi Open in Decatur, Ill. in August of 2010. His 10 PBA50 titles now matches his 10 PBA Tour titles.

“I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d win again, I just didn’t think it would take this much time,” said the 58-year-old Baker. “Over the past few years I was always qualifying well, but couldn’t seal the deal in match play. I finally got it done today.”

Goebel, trying for his first PBA50 Tour win, finished the match first with three strikes in the 10th frame forcing Baker to at least get a spare and nine-count in the 10th for the win which is just what he did. It would have been slightly easier for Baker had he struck on his first ball in the 10th but he left a solid nine-pin.

“That took the wind out of my sails a little,” said Baker, who is the only player to win four consecutive PBA50 Player of the Year crowns, “but I was confident that if I made the spare I could make the shot I needed on the last ball to win.”

Both Baker and Goebel advanced to the title match by being the top two scorers in the fifth eliminator round. Baker had a 525 two-game total and Goebel, 504, eliminating three-time PBA50 Tour titlist Hugh Miller (488) and PBA50 Player of the Year Walter Ray Williams Jr. (427) who won last week’s Sun Bowl In the Villages.

“This is the first time we’ve used this eliminator format and I enjoyed it,” Baker said. “Your mindset is a little different because you’re bowling for score more than you are an opponent.”

The next stop for the PBA50 Tour will be Mooresville, N.C., for the PBA50 Miller High Life Classic presented by Columbia 300 May 5-8. PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame will provide start-to-finish coverage of the tournament beginning with qualifying on May 6. For subscription and schedule information visit the homepage and click on the Xtra Frame logo.

Throughout the 2013 PBA50 Tour season, players will be competing for the opportunity to advance to the nationally-televised PBA50 Tour Finals which will be conducted as part of the World Series of Bowling V in Las Vegas in November. The top three players in points at the conclusion of the season will advance to the PBA50 Tour Finals.

Lightning Strikes Lanes, Trussville, Ala., Wednesday

Final Results 

Championship Match 
Tom Baker, King, N.C. ($7,500) def. Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan. ($4,000), 227-226.

Eliminator Round 5 (two-game totals, top two advance) 
Baker, 525. 
Goebel, 504.

Failed to advance, each earned $2,500 
Hugh Miller, Seatle, 488. 
Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 427.

Eliminator Round 4 (three-game totals, top four advance
W.R. Williams, 780. 
Miller, 720. 
Goebel, 715. 
Baker, 704.

Failed to advance, each earned $1,700 
Robert Harvey, Boise, Idaho, 699. 
Mike Edwards, Tulsa, 673. 
Lennie Boresch Jr., Kenosha, Wis., 641. 
Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 589.

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