Brady Stearns of Saint Augusta, Minn., won his first PBA Regional title Sunday in Mounds View, Minn., in what might have been the most bizarre ending in PBA Regional tournament history.
In Sunday’s PBA Mermaid Lanes Midwest Open presented by Columbia 300 in Mounds View, Stearns defeated Nick Pate of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., 240-239, to win the title and $2,500 first prize after Pate, needing two pins on his fill ball after converting a 10 pin spare in the 10th frame, saw his final shot drift right into the gutter.
(At left, Brady Stearns with Mermaid Lanes general manager Greg Holeman)
Ironically, Stearns had opened the door for Pate in similar fashion just moments earlier. Working on a string of six strikes including the first two in his 10th frame, Stearns also threw his final shot into the gutter to give Pate an easier chance to win. Had Stearns struck on his fill ball, he would have forced Pate to also strike on his first shot in the 10th for the title, but his gutterball meant Pate only had to spare and get two pins.
Adding to the irony, the Mermaid Lanes Midwest Open was contested on the Del Ballard Jr.lane oiling pattern. The lane conditioning pattern was named in honor of the PBA Hall of Famer who infamously rolled a gutter ball on his final shot to lose the 1991 PBA Fair Lanes Open title to Pete Weber.
“It was the most bizarre finish I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been involved with the PBA since 1976 – 43 years. And I bowled a few years before that,” said veteran PBA East Region Manager Russ Mills, who served as tournament director for the event. “I thought Nick was going to throw it right down the middle, but he didn’t. I don’t think he was aware of the situation, but hopefully he’ll learn from it.”
You can watch the drama unfold on YouTube:
Prior to the climactic title match, Pate defeated Russ Oviatt of Chandler, Ariz., 279-236, to advance to the championship match after Pate downed Kiho Kyun of Plymouth, Minn., 257-219, in the first stepladder match.
In Saturday’s PBA River City Extreme Midwest Open presented by Hammer in Monticello, Minn., non-PBA member John Kreyer Jr. of Mounds View defeated Stearns, 213-202, to win in Monticello. Kreyer earned $2,500 but doesn’t get credited with a PBA regional title since he is a non-member.
Kreyer defeated Mike Fagan of Las Vegas, 209-179, to advance to the championship match after Kreyer edged Blake Demore of Springfield, Mo., 214-212, in the first stepladder match.