Eric Smith made it a habit not to look at the standings board during the Bud Light York County Match Play Championship, which is updated after every game in the event.
"I didn't want to know the standings," the Dallastown right-hander said. "Sometimes, you get too relaxed knowing you're in first place. Besides, the only score that matters is the one at the end."
When Smith did look at the standings at the end of two days of match play, he stood in first place, 12 pins ahead of New Oxford's Josh Coleman, 1,290-1,278.
Smith entered the championship match with a 54-pin lead over Coleman, who needed to beat Smith by 25 pins (bowlers receive 30 pins for a win) to take the title.
Although Coleman defeated Smith, 279-267, in the championship match, it wasn't enough to overtake the leader.
"I'm feeling ecstatic," said Smith after clinching the title at South Hanover Lanes on Sunday. "It's amazing. Everyone knows this is a difficult tournament to win because the caliber of bowlers is so high. And, this year there were five former champs in match play."
The moment was more special because Smith's wife, son, mother-in-law and friends were in attendance. He said his father and his father-in-law also were looking down on him from heaven.
Coleman kept pressure on Smith: Smith admitted he didn't know what his lead was going into the championship match.
"I knew I had to keep the score close and I couldn't let Josh (Coleman) get too far ahead," he said.
Coleman said, "I wanted to make Eric earn the title. I wanted to put the pressure on him. I knew I had to roll a big game, probably a 260 or 270."
Coleman definitely kept the pressure on Smith. He tallied 11 of 12 strikes, only leaving the 2-pin, which he converted in the fifth frame.
Smith almost matched Coleman strike for strike. He left the 4-pin in the first frame and the 7-pin in the fourth. He covered them for spares.
After Coleman finished with a 279, Smith stepped to the line in the 10th frame, needing a strike to wrap up the victory. He calmly delivered a no-doubt-about-it strike, which triggered the crowd to erupt into applause.
"That was when I knew I had won," said Smith, who collected $1,000 for the victory.
Strong all weekend: Smith, who won 10 of his 12 matches over the weekend, grabbed the lead from Greg Bruff after the first game on Sunday and held onto it the rest of the day.
He entered Sunday's action highly confident after winning all six of his matches on Saturday at East Lincoln Lanes.
"I rolled a 163 in my second game today, and I thought I had shot myself in the foot," Smith said. "But, I rebounded with a 260 in the third game and that was key."
He added: "This is a big day for me. I have done well in match play before, finishing as high as second, but this is the first time I have been able to seal the deal."
Final standings: Here are the final standings with pin totals:1. Smith (1,290), 2. Coleman (1,278), 3. Mike Spangler (1,107), 4. Jerred Poff (973), 5. Steve Carbaugh (949), 6. Greg Bruff (942), 7. Andy Carson (896); 8. Joey Mong (883); 9. Adam Baer (850); 10. Brent Hunter (836); 11. Paul Wolfram (811), 12. Chuck Crone (710).
Reach Barry Sparks at email@example.com.