|PWPT Champ at Westview, John Deantoniis|
On December 11th at AMF Westview Lanes, Baltimore, Maryland’s John Deantoniis reasserted himself as one of the premier players in the duckpin game in a rousing performance in the stepladders finals of the Pop Whitten Pro Tour. Deantoniis capped a brilliant weekend with a stellar performance in the title game against multi-time PWPT champ Mark Berends.
The last stage of the Sunday finals—the stepladder—would prove to be a ‘Battle of Baltimore’, as all five contestants resided in the Baltimore Bowlers Association jurisdiction.
In the opening match of the 5-man ladder, the wildcard Berends faced off against 4th seeded Dom Caprinolo. In a match laden with splits in the early going for Caprinolo, Berends performed with a veteran’s mantle, doing what he had to do when given the opportunity, to win the contest. Dom had a flair for heroics in the early stages, with frames 2 through 5 featuring splits. In the 2nd frame, Caprinolo left the 5-6-7-10, and in the 3rd frame, he had the 7-8-9 split, both on apparent solid hits, and in both cases, he nearly converted each split, bringing a pin off the wall, only to be denied to the groans of the crowd in attendance. Scoring picked up in the 2nd half of the match for both men, but the essential difference in the contest for the two professionals was that Mark left and converted a spare break in the 5th, the tricky 6-9, while Dom had to shoot at another split. After trading marks back and forth in the 2nd half of the match, Berends finished with a spare to attain a 142-131 victory.
Berends would next face Mt. Airy, Maryland’s Jeremy Ruthvin. Jeremy was slow getting started, and Mark took control with a triple-header in frames 2 through 4. Ruthvin got on track coming down the stretch, posting spares in 3 of his last 4 frames, but Berends was rock solid, as he added his own marks in the waning moments to come away with a 155-127 victory.
The semi-final pitted Berends against fellow Baltimorean, Jeff Cason in a rematch from earlier divisional play in which Cason was the victor. Jeff opted to start the match, and did so impressively with a devastating strike. But Mark was unphased as he put up a strong spare and strike in his opening pair of boxes. At this point, in spite of his opening strike, it appeared that the wait to roll in the semi-final game caught up with the game but older Cason, as he struggled through the balance of the contest, and was never able to seize an opportunity to turn the tables on Berends. Mark continued his workman’s type game, marking whenever possible, en route to a 147-101 win.
With 3 victories under his belt, Berends definitely had his stroke going and it would take a strong effort from the top seed, John Deantoniis, to unseat his formidable adversary. Deantoniis was indeed up to the task, as he opened the match with 3 strong spares while Berends’ only mark after 3 frames was a strike in the 2nd. Mark chopped the headpin out in the 4th and 5th boxes while John added another spare in the 5th. At the halfway point, Deantoniis was in control with a healthy, but not insurmountable, 27-pin lead. However, knowing the reputation of his opponent, John wasn’t about to let up. Mark would prove true to his glory on the Pop Whitten tour, as he put together 5 strong frames to close out the match with spares. But Deantoniis was up to the challenge, as he kept pace with Berends, matching his opponent mark-for-mark, and ended the event with a deserving championship win on the heels of a 180-148 victory over the tough Berends. For both finalists, the climactic final game will reinforce the armor in the makeup of each man’s game for the future.
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