Free Agent Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, trying for his first Professional Bowlers Association Tour title after nine years, held off PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke by two pins to earn the top stepladder berth for the June 1 Lucas Oil PBA Wolf Open finals at AMF West Friday night.
Loschetter, who has finished second four times in his career, led the tournament from the second game, fighting off challenges all day Friday and clinging to the No. 1 position when Duke left a solid 8in the 10th frame of his final game.
Loschetter used a Storm Lights Out™ Friday night.
Loschetter celebrated his 33rd birthday by finishing the Wolf Open, the second of four tournaments in the GEICO PBA Winter Swing presented by Lucas Oil with a 26-game total of 6,617 pins, including match play bonus pins, and a feeling that maybe it’s time to win his first PBA Tour title.
“I’m definitely due,” he said. “I feel like I deserve a title more than anybody out here. I’ve worked hard. I deserve it. I hope this time it happens. I’ve had some horrible breaks on TV, but I think the time has come.”
Loschetter will meet the winner of a stepladder field including Duke in second place; 20-year-old rookie E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., in third place with 6,554 pins; PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., in fourth place with a 6,477 total, and Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., in fifth with 6,436 pins.
As relieved as Loschetter was to hold onto the lead, Duke was stunned over his bad break.
“That ball could have struck,” he said of the 8that stood on a solid pocket hit. “Unbelievable. That was the third solid 8 pin I left in the last three games. They cost me 70 pins.
Duke used a Roto Grip Critical Theory™ on Friday night.
“Mentally I’m exhausted,” he continued. “Physically I’m fine except my right thumb wants to fall off. I’m a little frustrated, but I’ll tell you, a lot of other guys are frustrated, too.”
Missing the top position for the Wolf Open stepladder finals means there can’t be a showdown match for the title between Duke and Weber, each of whom owns 37 PBA Tour titles, tied for third best in PBA history behind Walter Ray Williams Jr. (47) and Earl Anthony (43). But the two hall of famers could meet in the semifinal match.
Weber used a Roto Grip Shatter™ and the new Storm Freak'n Frantic Friday night.
“We haven’t bowled each other on TV in a long time,” Duke said, “but Pete and I have had some barn burners over the years. Pete’s one of the best that ever lived. We’re dear friends. We’re both aware of where we are in our careers, and to be mentioned in the same breath with him is really special.”
Tackett, a two-time member of Junior Team USA, will be making his first television appearance in the Wolf Open finals on Saturday, June 1, at 2:30 p.m. CT. O’Neill is trying for his fifth PBA Tour title.
The GEICO PBA Summer Swing now moves to AMF Bowlero in nearby Wauwatosa for the Lucas Oil Bear Open. Following a day off on Saturday, players will bowl practice and pro-am events Sunday followed by two five-game qualifying rounds on Monday. The top 24 will then advance to two eight-game match play rounds on Tuesday.
Stepladder finals for all four PBA Tour events, plus the GEICO Summer King of the Swing special event, will be taped over two days by the CBS Sports Network June 1-2 at Bowlero for airing on five consecutive Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET beginning June 11.
The GEICO Summer King of the Swing will include the four Summer Swing event champions plus the next highest points leader who hasn’t won a title. Those five will compete in a $25,000 stepladder final for a $10,000 first prize, concluding the summer series on June 2.
LUCAS OIL PBA WOLF OPEN
AMF West, Milwaukee, Wis., May 24
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (after 26 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advance to Wolf Open stepladder finals on Saturday, June 1, at 2:30 p.m. CT at AMF Bowlero)
1, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 8-7-1, 6,617.
2, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 12-4, 6,615.
3, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 11-5, 6,554.
4, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 11-5, 6,477.
5, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 8-8, 6,436.
6, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 9-7, 6,391, $1,800.
7, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 11-5, 6,345, $1,700.
8, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 11-4-1, 6,319, $1,600.
9, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 9-7, 6,314, $1,550.
10, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 8-7-1, 6,301, $1,500.
11, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 8-8, 6,264, $1,450.
12, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 5-10-1, 6,216, $1,400.
13, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz., 10-6, 6,175, $1,350.
14, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 6-9-1, 6,170, $1,300.
15, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 8-8, 6,145, $1,250.
16, Randy Weiss, Columbia, S.C., 7-8-1, 6,112, $1,200.
17, Mike Fagan, Dallas, 7-9, 6,068, $1,150.
18, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7-9, 6,013, $1,100.
19, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 5-11, 6,001, $1,050.
20, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 7-9, 5,988, $1,000.
21, Kenneth Kempf, Appleton, Wis., 8-8, 5,940, $950.
22, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 7-9-0, 5,761, $900.
23, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 4-12, 5,736, $850.
24, William Guszczo, Orland Park, Ill., 2-14, 5,384, $800.