|Westview Winner, Mark Callahan|
During the summer of 2010, the Pop Whitten Pro Tour played host to an incredible pair of back-to-back one-pin victories in the championship game. Two months after Mark Callahan fell victim on the losing end of a 1-pin margin of victory in August, the policeman from Stewartstown, PA turned the tables to be on the winning end of the equation. The October tour stop at AMF Westview in Baltimore ended up being one of the higher scoring matches in PWPT history in which victory came down to the last ball of the contest.
If consistency of excellence translates to the term "domination", then Mark Callahan has earned the adjective 'dominating'. Mark was always there in the winner's bracket in 2010, as he made an astonishing 6 ladders on the PWPT tour (along with 2 stepladder finals in the DPBA), including 4 consecutive PWPT ladders from July to October, the last of which being where he hit 'paydirt'. The nickname "Inspector Callahan", given to him by Jeff Pyles in tribute to Clint Eastwood's 'Dirty Harry' cinema character, is especially fitting for the low key, yet fully respected Callahan.
Mark was seeded as the wildcard on the 5-man stepladder, and successfully ascended each rung of the ladder with victories over three of Baltimore's best pros. Callahan's victories followed similar patterns in which he started slow or even, and then pulled away at the very end of each contest. With victories over Walt Brooks (157-144), Mitch Lewinski (133-121), and John Deantoniis (167-144), Callahan would ultimately face his biggest challenge of the day against the legend, Crofton's Jeff Pyles.
Callahan opened the contest with a strike, with Pyles to follow with a spare/strike of his own in his opening assault. Mark spared, then opened the 3rd box after leaving what could be termed 'The Devil's Triangle', the 1-7-10.
Meanwhile, Jeff continued to roll along, completing his 3rd straight '20-box' after his 4th frame, leading to a 15-pin lead after 3 frames. Then Callahan began to string marks starting in his half of the 4th. After open frames from Pyles in the 5th and 7th frames, Mark had come back to take a 3-pin lead. But the resilient Pyles dug in and essentially recaptured the lead with a gutsy double-header in the 8th and 9th frames.
Pyles had a chance to really tighten the thumbscrews on Callahan in the 10th, but couldn't successfully convert on a spare break in the last box, thus giving Mark a chance to win with a big finish and a single mark, instead of a double-header.
Pyles had finished with 176, and Callahan's score was 140 after 8 frames with a spare in the 9th. The situation for Callahan was clear as he stepped up to roll his half of the 10th. He needed a total of 37 pins in the 9th and 10th boxes combined to win, meaning he had to break at least 7 on his first ball in the 10th to keep his hopes alive. All of Mark's previous ladder experience now came into play, and he delivered a strong ball on the headpin, which left him the 3-6 spare break. Leaving nothing up to chance, Mark covered both pins with the ball, and now with a score of 158 after 9 frames, and a spare working in the 10th, it was now a one-ball contest—9 or better to win. Mark took his time and again made another great pitch, hitting squarely in the 1-3 pocket, clearing out all 10 pins to pull out a 178-176 victory.
For Callahan, all 8 ladder appearances between the two pro tour circuits for the year made for a truly, memorable performance for not only himself, but all in attendance.
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