By Jill Winters
Lake Wales, Florida – Bowlers on the left side of the 2022 Kia PBA Playoff quarterfinals bracket provided a strike fest inside the Kegel Training Center.
The first match was a showdown against the past two PBA Playoff champions, No. 16 Bill O’Neill and No. 9 Kyle Troup.
Both players started out using urethane and each posting 9-spare in their first two frames. “My first two shots, I was playing a little hesitant like I was afraid to get after it and hit it,” Troup said about his opening two spares.
Troup followed that up with nine straight strikes, while O’Neill rolled a turkey and three single-pin spares.
O’Neill made the switch to reactive resin in the 9th frame and struck out. Troup also took a look at reactive in the 10th frame as he won game one in the race to 2, 278-236.
The left lane continued to hook earlier then the right lane, as they combined for just three strikes on that lane.
O’Neill chose his DV8 Damn Good Verge Pearl to start with four out of five strikes to earn a one-pin lead halfway through. After Troup failed to convert the 3-10 split in the eighth frame, O’Neill had the opportunity to even the match and force a 9th and 10th frame roll-off. But O’Neill left back-to-back 10-pins then saw his first delivery in the 10th frame—on the dreaded left lane—slide to the right of the head pin leaving the 1-2-4-8. He chopped it.
Troup stepped up on the right lane and struck on his first ball. The defending champion yelled, “Bang, bang come after my belt,” as he escaped to advance, 205-202.
“Unfortunately for the rest of the guys, I am building confidence probably for the first-time this year,” Troup said after the win. “I found a little something in my physical game before the round of 16. Physically I feel like I am putting the pieces together quickly and I am ready to go defend my title.”
As for that hiccup in his physical game, it was noticed in Troup’s set-up he was rolling his shoulders over too early which “set me south from there forward,” he said.
“I thought I was doing things right all year long working with my timing,” he said. “Apparently, I was, it was just this shoulder thing. Now I can feel my bad shots versus before I was trying to feel my good ones.”
In the second match, the inaugural winner of the PBA Playoffs, No. 5 Kris Prather took on No. 4 Dom Barrett, who was looking to make a push for consideration in the 2022 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year conversation.
This was a rematch of the 2022 PBA Tournament of Champions where Barrett defeat No. 1 seed Prather to become one of just eight players to win the Triple Crown. But it also was a bit reminiscent of the 2022 PBA World Championship that Prather won last month.
Prather switched balls a couple of times on the tricky left lane searching for the right look, while he stuck with the Storm Dark Code on the right lane striking every time in game one, as he smoothly mastered the TV pair.
“I made ball changes on multiple strikes in a row,” Prather said about the left lane. “I just didn’t really like what I saw at the beginning. I was seeing my ball hook earlier than what I wanted. Basically what you saw at the World Championship is what I was doing here. I have been seeing the ball well pretty much the last month in a half.”
Prather began with the front seven, while Barrett threw the last six strikes to lose, 279-248. They combined to throw 19 strikes.
“For me, it (Dark Code) is smooth enough where I can really use my hand and be aggressive with my moves and angle changes,” he said. “I have a lot of trust in that ball, and I feel like I can pretty much throw it on anything and do anything with the Dark Code.”
It was more of the same for game two, as they again combined to strike 19 times.
Barrett started 9-spare followed by seven straight strikes. Prather doubled, picked up a 10-pin and continued to strike.
They were tied at 219 in the eight frame. Barrett picked up a 10-pin in the ninth and finished first with a double and nine for 268.
Needing a strike and nine spare to win, Prather doubled and got nine for an impressive 278. “Whenever I get left like that, my shot repetition goes up as far as frequency of well executed shots and my speed control and hand at the bottom is very consistent,” Prather said about his game. “If I can throw it as slow as I want and hit it as hard as I want at the bottom then more than likely I am going to be bowling pretty well. Just fortunate to walk out on top after 270, 270 and barely winning the second game.”
Prather, who has won three tournaments each with a $ 100,000 purse, threw 20 out of 24 strikes during the two-game match.
He will now face another $ 100,000 man, Troup, in the semifinals at 1 p.m. ET Sun., May 8 on FOX Broadcast Channel.
The winner of the Kia PBA Playoffs will earn $ 100,000, a PBA Tour title, and a WWE championship belt.
Match 1 – Troup def. O’Neill 278-236, 205-202
Match 2 – Prather def. Barrett 279-248, 278-268