RED LION — Bowling can be a funny sport — one bowler’s mistake is often another bowler's break.
That was definitely the case Sunday morning in the York County Senior Match Play Championship at Lion Bowl.
Mike Wolfrom, the leader after Saturday’s qualifying, was still atop the leader board after four of six games Sunday. A clean (no open frames), but damaging fifth game, in which he bowled a 195, left Wolfrom 16 pins behind Mike Starliper heading into the sixth and final game of the day.
While the 56 year old didn’t bowl great in the final, his opponent opened the door a little too much and Wolfrom took advantage. Wolfrom had a small lead in the final game before Starliper began his 10th frame. After a strike and a nine count, all Starliper needed to do was convert the spare to draw even.
Wolfrom began to prepare for a possible bowl-off while Starliper was preparing to bowl his final shot. That preparation, however, wasn't need. Starliper’s final ball hooked past the 9-pin for an open frame. That miss was enough to give Wolfrom to the title by the slightest of margins. The right-hander clipped Starliper, 581-580.
Tony Thurmond, who had an outside shot to leapfrog both Wolfrom and Starliper in the final game of the modified match-play event, finished third with a 523.
Format: In modified match play, bowlers receive plus or minus the number of pins over or under 200 each game. In addition, the top four bowlers, based on individual game results, received bonus pins. The bowler with the highest score received 40 bonus pins, and the amount of bonus pins decreased by 10 pins with each subsequent position. Bonus pins are awarded after each game.
“I thought we were going to wind up in a playoff,” Wolfrom said. “Then I was hearing that some other guys had some good games going. I was doing the math and it was very tight in that last game there.”
Wolfrom and Starliper finished one-two in Saturday’s qualifying at Hanover Bowling Centre (four games) and Suburban Bowlerama (four games). That meant that they were paired up at Lion Bowl Sunday for each of the final six games. It also added more intrigue that the duo bowled on the final two lanes, No. 11 and No. 12, in the final, while the rest of the field bowled in lanes 1-8.
Thurmond looked in good shape after beginning the last game with four strikes in a row. But he tailed off from his hot start. Dave Zelger, who finished fifth with a 477, increased his pin count by more than 100 in the final game, but he was too far off the pace to catch up.
Spare elusive: Not so for Wolfrom, who bowled a 188 in his final game. All that Starliper, who bowled a 171, needed was to convert a fairly routine spare to force a playoff.
Another’s mistake is typically another’s break, indeed.
“It happens like that,” said Wolfrom, who is a regular bowler at Suburban. “It’s real tricky when you shoot across the lane. With these over-reactive balls, when they pick up any dryness on the lane they want to hook right away. You’ll see many bowlers have a different ball for right-handed side spares. He went right down the middle and it grabbed it and at the end it just missed it.”
Mike Zelger, who owns Lion Bowl and organized the tournament, said that if there was a tie it would have been broken by a one-game playoff instead of the typical two-frame bowl-off.
It never came down to that for Wolfrom, who was appreciative to win the event that is open to all bowlers 50 years of age and older.
“This weekend just shows the ability of a lot of the seniors that we have that they can bowl some numbers,” he said. “They can really put some scores together. I averaged a 250 (in qualifying) and was only in the lead starting today by 20 pins.”
Results: Following are the final York County Senior Match Play Championship results:
1, Mike Wolfrom, 581. 2. Mike Starliper, 580. 3. Tony Thurmond, 523. 4. Billy Heltzel, 518. 5. Dave Zelger, 477. 6. Guy Johnson, 452. 7. Charlie Earnst, 394. 8. Dane Slenker, 277. 9. Sterling Seiple, 68.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.