|2012 Turner World Classic Champion, Carey Sczepucha|
The 2012 Turner World Classic, held at Southside Bowl in Hagerstown, MD, once again played host to a rousing final day and dramatic conclusion to one of the year's premier duckpin events. Carey Sczepucha of Baltimore, Maryland defeated Canada's Scott Dumoulin in the finale game to capture the $10,000 grand prize and his first DPBA tour victory.
The bracket 'single game elimination' format was used on the tournament's final day for the 2nd consecutive year at the Southside event as opposed to the traditional stepladder method, and just as in its debut year, yielded some memorable results.
The top 5 scores during the qualifying round featured Jason Sauter's 1277 8-game block, followed by Winnie Shriver's 1269, Jimmy Burns' 1247, Carey Sczepucha's 1245, and Chris Frye's 1244. Of the 36 bowlers who would ultimately advance to the Sunday semi-finals, 3 Canadians were included, led by Brian "House" Whalen (1233), Mike Herbert (1216), and Scott Dumoulin (1161). The cut for the top 36 was 1145. The oldest player in the field, 74 years young, John DePalma pitched an impressive score of 1110 on the tough lane conditions after a slow start in the opening game.
The preliminary round featured a healthy 152 entrants. While not nearly the capacity that the Hagerstown event saw a few years ago, in which as high as 219 competitors participated, the 2012 field of bowlers will no doubt still eclipse the highest anticipated turnout for any other scheduled duckpin event of the year.
The 8-man bracket elimination round on Sunday was preceded by a divisional play round of 6 divisions. Five games of head-to-head competition would be rolled, yielding 6 division winners, and the 2 best 2nd place finishers, decided by won/lost record and then pinfall as tiebreaking criteria. Division winners included Wink Bartley (5-0), defending champion Kenny Herrell (4-1), Scott Mauk (4-1), Carey Sczepucha (4-1), Rick Dansereau (4-1), and Randy Farlow (4-1). The wildcards were Scott Dumoulin (4-1) and Don Dove (3-2). Sczepucha had the highest 5-game total of 786, followed by Herrell and Dove, each with 770.
The match-ups for the 'Elite 8' round featured Sczepucha outlasting Dansereau, 134-126, Farlow getting out of the starting blocks fast against Mauk, 178-118, Dove dethroning Herrell, 188-143, and Dumoulin surpassing Bartley, 140-112.
In the first of the 'Final Four' matches, Carey Sczepucha and Randy Farlow were involved in a 'grind it out' type of dogfight. The difference in the contest ultimately was a case of Carey being able to capitalize on opportunities in the latter stages, whereas Randy couldn't make anything happen in the final 2 frames. The other semi-final match between Scott Dumoulin and Don Dove was a tense affair and bursting with drama. As he had performed in his prior match against Kenny Herrell, Dove was impressive right from the start, filling frames and gaining a significant advantage at the halfway point in the contest. Dumoulin, on the other hand, started slowly, as he also had done in his previous encounter in which he rallied late against Wink Bartley. After 6 frames, things looked exceedingly bleak for Scott, who trailed Don by 22 pins.
Dumoulin posted a seemingly innocent and harmless strike in the 7th, which was overshadowed by Dove's matching strike in the 7th and a follow-up spare in the 8th. But Dumoulin didn't give up. Standing his ground, Scott proceeded to strike in the 8th to record a crucial double-header. In the foundation 9th frame, and to the roar of his Canadian traveling compadres, Dumoulin cashed in on the all-important delivery with another crushing strike, to solidly put himself back in the match with a now glaring triple-header on the scoreboard.
The ball was now back in Dove's court. Suddenly, needing a mark to keep pace with Dumoulin, Dove rolled true, but punched out the middle for a 5-count, leading to an open frame. With Dumoulin 'coming out of nowhere' to take the lead in the contest, Don desperately needed a huge finish. With a champion's mettle, Dove pressed on, smothering the headpin on his first ball in the 10th for the necessary strike of his own to put himself back into contention in the match. On the next critical delivery, Don was strong, but got tapped with a solid 9-drop on his 2nd ball. Dove ended with 156, and Dumoulin now had to finish the job he started in the 7th frame. The pressure of the situation was now immense. Needing 9 on his first ball to secure victory, Scott was cool and deliberate, and once again pasted the 1-3 pocket for a match clinching strike/ 4-bagger, and an ensuing 178 score.
With 2 relative newcomers to championship matches advancing to the final game of the World Classic, no one knew what to expect from each 'small ball' professional. It was now Sczepucha vs. Dumoulin for $10,000.00 and a duckpin tour win. The match began and Carey got the early edge with a mark in the first frame. An unforced error from each bowler in the first 4 frames, along with a split conversion by Scott in the early going resulted in a virtual deadlock, as both bowlers now had shed the early nerves. One extra spare break for Carey in the next 2 frames gave Sczepucha a one-mark advantage at the end of 6 frames. The 7th frame, however, would be where the tide would permanently turn in Carey's favor. Sczepucha was perfect in his pitches from the 7th to the 10th frames, resulting in no less than a game-deciding 4-bagger. The Canadian was equal to the test and battled back, but Scott couldn't catch a needed double-header for a comeback until the 10th frame. By then it was too late for Dumoulin, who posted a solid 164 game—a game which under normal circumstances would be more than enough to win a championship.
But Sczepucha's superior efforts from the qualifying round and the divisional play, along with a pair of 'tooth and nail' bracket wins were rewarded with an extremely rare "200" game in a duckpin title match. Carey's 204 in the final earned him a deserved 'star' on the duckpin pro tour—not to mention the $10,000.00 grand prize.
Dumoulin joined the list of Canadians who have brought home sizable paychecks from Southside Bowl in the last 3 years, as he received $5,000 for his efforts.
Truly the event at Hagerstown was a unique twist of fate in which two 4-baggers in back-to-back games in the same frames (7 through 10) were experienced by each man.. Dumoulin's string of strikes brought him to the championship, and Sczepucha's won him the title.
Proprietor Frank Turner said it best in his post tournament awards ceremony presentation:
"We saw some incredible bowling, but someone's got to lose, and someone's got to win. But thank God, we're still alive, and we've always got next year."
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