Monday, March 9, 2009

Barnes Wins Buckeye State Eliminator

Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, ended his five-game television losing streak in style Sunday, racing away to a 258-172 victory over Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., in the title match of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Don Johnson Buckeye State Eliminator at Sequoia Pro Bowl.

Barnes, who successfully defended his 2008 Buckeye State title, earned $25,000 and his first title of the 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season. Four straight strikes in the middle of the game in response to four consecutive nine-pin spares by Koivuniemi put Barnes into a commanding lead and he never looked back.

“The hardest thing to do is to repeat with all the expectations that come from winning,” Barnes said, “but the short format today worked in my favor and I survived. I have been there enough to put up with the heat. I like the competition and love bowling on Sunday.”

Barnes also noted he has been working with retired PBA Tour star Mark Baker on improving his game.

“The stuff I worked on with Mark kept me in check”, said Barnes.

In the opening match of the unique eliminator tournament final, Rhino Page of Topeka, Kan., was low-man-out, failing to convert a pair of splits in posting a 202 game. Barnes led the four-player group with a 238, Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, was second with a 216 and Koivuniemi had a 212 game.

In the semifinal contest, Scroggins left single pins in five frames en route to elimination with a 218. Koivuniemi rolled a 266 and Barnes a 235 game to set up the title match between long-time friends and tour roommates.

The tournament also raised more than $37,000 in the name of the tournament’s namesake, the late PBA Hall of Famer Don Johnson, for Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus to help buy insulin pumps and medicine for families in need.

The Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour now moves to Norwich Bowling and Entertainment Center in Norwich, Conn., for the GoRVing Match Play Championship. The fifth and final stop on the PBA Tour’s “Extreme Swing” gets underway on Tuesday. ESPN will televise the finals next Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

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