|Glen Burnie runner-up, Steve Dryer (left), with champion Bernie Hipkins (right)|
In a 'Battle of the Behemoths' at Glen Burnie Bowl on September 5th, 2010, the impending championship contest was a classic case of the "Irresistible Force vs. the Immovable Object", as 2 of the top 3 bowlers in the nation faced off in a dream title match. The top seed, Frederick, Maryland's Bernie Hipkins stepped into the final to square off against Bristol, Rhode Island's Steve Dryer. Not only were the credentials of the two competitors enough to make the match a spectator's wish come true, but each bowler had double doses of momentum on his side. Dryer was the tournament's high qualifier with a whopping 1358 8-game block total, while Hipkins was devastating in the match play round with an astonishing 885 pinfall total for his 5-game head-to-head divisional play. Adding more spice to the mix, Dryer had just come off a tight victory in the semi-final ladder match. But Hipkins' last 2 games in divisional play were back-to-back '200+' games. Given all this, something had to give in the final.
Leading up to the final, there was excitement in the early stages of the stepladder finals, as the wildcard, Todd Williams battled the 4th seed, Mark Callahan to a 163-163 draw, leading to a two-frame roll-off. Williams squeaked by in dramatic fashion, and used his momentum to gain a comfortable victory over 3rd seeded Jeff Pyles. In the semi-final ladder match, Williams was involved in another nail-biter against the 2nd seed, Steve Dryer. Todd finished first and after the smoke cleared, Steve controlled his own destiny, but needed a big finish to secure a victory over Williams' solid 149 game. Dryer, who was on a spare in the 9th frame, needed a big count and a mark to win the match. Steve came up big with his best ball of the match in the 10th frame for a strike, and after applying the necessary count, he completed a 152-149 win.
The championship was now at hand, and the top seed Hipkins decided to tempt fate and have Dryer start the match first. Steve opened with a 10 frame while Bernie strung 4 marks out the gate. But Dryer was unphased and answered back in frames 2-4 with a spare and a double-header to cut the lead to 5 pins after 4 frames. A lull in the 5th through 7th boxes from both contestants lead to '10' frames and Hipkins maintained a 5-pin lead after 7. Each bowler broke single pin spare breaks in the 8th, and both converted. In Dryer's half of the 9th, he left the dreaded 7-10 split, leading to a '10' frame, and the door was now open for Hipkins. But Bernie couldn't capitalize as he ripped 5 out of the middle on his count, but he managed to squeeze a '10' out for the frame, and the lead for Hipkins was now trimmed to 3 pins. Although leading, Bernie's back was against the wall as he couldn't afford anything less than a mark with a big count. Hipkins came up huge, tripling in the 10th frame to put the game on ice. Steve finished with a '10' to complete a clean game for both bowlers, neither one leaving any wood in the match. For Bernie Hipkins, this was his first DPBA tour victory, and he did it in impressive fashion. Steve Dryer's bid for a 5th star was a tad short, but it was a final that both bowlers could be proud of.
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