Barnes, a 14-time PBA Tour champion, defeated reigning WBT men’s champion Mika Koivuniemi of Finland, 244-228, while Parkin defeated Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, NY, 238-190, in the women’s finals during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling (WSOB). Both finals, which featured three players who qualified by earning points in World Tenpin Bowling Association-PBA International Tour events over a span of two years, aired Sunday on ESPN. Both champions earned $20,000.
Barnes, who won the Columbia 300 Vienna Open in Austria in October to lock up his berth in the WBT men’s finals, edged Mike Fagan of Dallas, 258-244, in the semifinal match before closing with a string of six strikes for a come-from-behind victory over his close friend, Koivuniemi, in the title match.
“Any win feels good,” Barnes said. “Mika and I always have good matches. I’ve been fortunate the last three times, but I’m pretty sure it’ll even out whether I like it or not.”
The key to Barnes’ victory was three 10 pins left by his long-time international rival on the right lane in the third, seventh and ninth frames.
“I left a couple of solid 10s on that lane myself,” Barnes said. “I knew that lane was tighter. I threw one shot that I thought was pretty good that didn’t even get back to the pocket.”
Forced to finish his game on the tricky right lane after Koivuniemi’s misfortune in the ninth frame gave him an opening, Barnes made a critical adjustment and threw three strikes in the 10th frame. The first strike was the one that iced the title.
“I knew I was going to move right and have to stay firm with the shot,” Barnes said. “Earlier on in my career I didn’t commit to that shot very well, but I committed to it, and made the shot I wanted to throw. It didn’t quite get up to high flush, but it was good enough today.”
As part of their ongoing rivalry on television, Barnes and Koivuniemi make a side bet that has involved things like the gaudy Madras plaid pair of pants Koivuniemi was forced to wear on television the last time he lost.
“We had a jersey bet on this one,” Barnes said of his WBT win. “I, or my fans, or his daughters will get to design a jersey that he’ll get to wear on a future TV show. And pretty much anything goes as long as it’s legal for TV.”
In the women’s finals, Johnson advanced to the title match after a thrilling 267-260 victory over PBA Tour titlist Kelly Kulick of Union, NJ. But Johnson’s strike shot evaporated in the title match. A 4-6-7 split in the second frame and a 4-6 in the fourth put her in a hole she couldn’t escape.
“I’ve come in second a lot lately,” said Parkin, who lost to Chicago’s Diandra Asbaty in the Australian Masters title match prior to the WSOB and finished second to Kulick in the U.S. Women’s Open earlier in the year. “Today I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I kind of went out with a mindset that I was going to make the pins strike. I know you can’t do that, but it was the mindset I had.
“I only had one game, and I needed to throw 10 really good shots, and I feel like I did. Luckily the pins fell my way and it was enough to win.”
But for Parkin, the victory made her international travels worth the effort.
“This year all of the travel has been particularly hard being away from family and friends,” she said. “It’s really hard; a lot of people don’t understand how much we travel. Winning this tournament after two years and having to accumulate all those points means so much.”
The second annual Bayer Advanced Aspirin WBT Finals presented by the PBA also signaled the start of a new points cycle for the international series. Points earned in WTBA-PBA International Tour events over the next 12 months will replace points earned in the first year of the qualifying cycle, leading into the third WBT Finals which will be part of PBA WSOB V in November 2013.
The 2012-13 PBA Tour season on ESPN continues next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with the finals of the Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Cheetah Championship. Stepladder finalists will include Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, PA; Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio; Jeff Roche, Dearborn, MI, and top qualifier Mike Wolfe, New Albany, IN.
Pre- and post-telecast shows for all PBA-ESPN telecasts will be available on Xtra Frame, PBA’s online bowling channel.