Ryan “Hitman” Ciminelli Captures Second Career PBA Title

LAS VEGAS – Ryan “Hitman” Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., converted disappointment into determination, winning the Professional Bowlers Association Chameleon Championship for his second PBA Tour title with an inspired 258-203 victory over England’s Dom Barrett.

The third of seven telecasts from PBA World Series of Bowling V at the South Point Hotel and Casino complex aired Sunday on ESPN. It again featured the use of “blue oil” to help fans see the otherwise invisible lane conditioning pattern. The Chameleon pattern was applied to 43 feet compared to a 35-foot application for the Cheetah Championship and 39 feet for the Viper pattern in previous weeks. The Scorpion Championship, which will air next Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET, is a 47-foot pattern.

Ciminelli, bowling in the wake of a bitter loss to Chris Barnes in the Viper Championship title match, when he left a 7-10 split in the final frame, started his battle against Barrett with three strikes and never trailed. When Barrett closed to within two pins after five frames, Ciminelli threw another string of five strikes to race away with his first title since winning the 2011 Earl Anthony Memorial.

“It was tough to put (the Viper) behind me, but I decided to use it as inspiration instead of letting it get to me,” the 27-year-old left-hander said. “I felt really good. I broke the lane down the way I wanted to and created some room for myself.

“I knew the (right) side really wasn’t that good,” he continued. “I knew if I stayed within myself, 220, 230 would probably win.

“The second title feels better (than the first),” Ciminelli added. “It’s been too long. You know you can win after the first one, but you wait three years and you begin to ask yourself if you’re a one-hit wonder. So now that’s off my shoulders.”

Barrett, who was the top qualifier for the Chameleon stepladder finals, was a bit confused at the start of the match.

“I didn’t feel like I made many bad shots, but my ball reaction didn’t look very good,” Barrett said. “One time it would hook, the next time it would go straight. It’s not the kind of scenario you want going into a title match against someone who was throwing the ball as well as Ryan was.”

Barrett insisted the blue oil had no bearing on anything, echoing Ciminelli’s sentiments.

“I think when you get to a certain level, your ball is your guide,” he said of the colored oil. “You’ve grown up reading ball reaction. That’s how we make our decisions. That’s how we win tournaments, so any visual aid out there might be great for TV or young bowlers, but when you get to this level, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to use information available to us like pattern length, the type of oil, the lane surface. All of those things make a huge difference, but visually, we’re going to read ball motions. We know what we do.

“If you paid too much attention to (the blue oil), you’d be ignoring the facts of what you’ve been doing all week. Ball motion is far more important.”

Ciminelli, the No. 3 qualifier coming into the Chameleon finals, ran away from Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., in the first match, 255-197, and was equally impressive in eliminating Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio, 235-179, in the semifinal match.

The Chameleon telecast also included the third of four special PBA League Challenge segments in which the eight PBA League franchise players are demonstrating their skills in unique competitions. In the “Obstacle Bowling” round, players tried to knock down as many pins as they could by throwing three shots through or around an obstacle course of rubber pins positioned at intervals down the lane.

BROOKLYN STyLES franchise player Sean Rash won the competition in a one-ball roll-off against Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits’ franchise player Osku Palermaa after they tied at 28 out of a possible total of 30.

“The obstacle course was fun,” Rash said. “I’m pretty good at throwing it hard and straight off the corner, and hooking it as much as possible. You were just trying to hit a target, draw a line and throw it hard, and I was able to come out on top in that one.”

“Visually (obstacle bowling) isn’t much different than what we do,” added Chris Barnes, who represented the Silver Lake Atom Splitters and tied for second with a 27. “There is always (an invisible) sand trap or a tree that you have to avoid, but physically you can’t see them represented like (the rubber pins).”

Next Sunday’s Scorpion Championship finals include top qualifier Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., an amateur and a Collegiate All-American at Robert Morris University-Illinois who was invited to bowl in the World Series on a PBA Commissioner’s Exemption; Smallwood; Josh Blanchard of Gilbert, Ariz., and Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C. The telecast also will include a PBA League “TO” Challenge in which NFL all-pro wide receiver and PBA League Dallas Strikers owner Terrell Owens will make a shot and a randomly-selected player will try to exactly match TO’s pinfall.

A post-finals look at the Chameleon Championship and a preview of the Scorpion Championship, along with other features, will be available Monday on “The Bowling Center” on YouTube.com. Xtra Frame subscribers who may have missed Sunday’s telecasts will be able to watch the finals “on demand” in the Xtra Frame archives three days after the original show airs.

South Point Exhibition Hall, Las Vegas (ESPN telcast Dec. 15)
Final Standings:

1, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., $20,000.

2, Dom Barrett, England, $10,000.
3, Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, $7,000.
4, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., $5,000.