PORTLAND, Maine – Bill O’Neill and Sean Rash kept their hopes alive to win the biggest first-place prize of the season as they advanced into the semifinals at the 2019 PBA Playoffs.
In a show that aired Monday but was taped in April, O’Neill defeated Wes Malott, while Rash survived a tough battle against Dom Barrett.
They join Kris Prather and Anthony Simonsen in this weekend’s live PBA Playoffs semifinals as the final four will battle for the $100,000 first-place prize.
Here’s a recap of both matches:
No. 7 Bill O’Neill 2, No. 15 Wes Malott 0
O’Neill struck on five of his first six shots in the opening game but the one miss was a big one. In the third frame, he went high and left the Big Four split. As a result, he led by just 13 pins halfway through the match.
Malott, meanwhile, couldn’t seem to get the four pin out in Game 1, leaving it four times in the first nine frames. Those four pin leaves would eventually catch up to Malott.
O’Neill struck in the eighth and ninth, and, in the 10th frame, got just enough for the win when he went strike, eight, spare, to shut Malott out by a pin. The final score ended up 229-217.
Strikes were flowing freely in the second game as both players started with the front three. Malott was the first to blink, however, as he went high and left the 3-6 in the fourth frame, while O’Neill continued his string to the front six.
That hot start allowed O’Neill to build a 32-pin lead before his run ended with a stuff four pin in the seventh frame. Malott was unable to gain any momentum in the second half of the game, leaving a 10 pin in the seventh frame and pitching the ball way right in the eighth, leaving the 1-2-7.
O’Neill cruised to an easy 246-202 victory to sweep the match.
No. 6 Sean Rash 2, No. 14 Dom Barrett 1
Barrett and Rash battled in a close opening game as the difference was 13 pins or less for most of the game.
Rash made two critical bad shots on the left lane, however, and those frames made the difference. In the seventh frame, he went high and left the 3-6-10, and in the ninth frame, he went high again and left the 3-10, which he missed.
In the 10th frame, Barrett just needed a mark for the shutout and tossed a perfect strike to win the first game 226-205.
Rash decided to make a big move after the first game, shifting everything right and playing a line similar to Barrett.
The move paid off big time for Rash as he shot the highest game so far in the PBA Playoffs to beat Barrett 268-253.
Rash started the game with a 10 pin, double and another 10 pin before rattling off seven strikes in a row. He could have shut Barrett out in the final frame with three strikes. He got a double but left a stone cold eight pin on the fill.
That gave Barrett a chance to throw all three to tie the game. Barrett got the first one but then came up light and left the 2-4-5 on his second shot to lose.
In the ninth and 10th frame tiebreaker, Rash put up the first perfect score of the PBA Playoffs, striking on all four shots in a 60-40 victory.
Barrett left a four pin on his first shot and struck on the first shot in the 10th frame. On his second shot, trying to put the pressure on Rash, Barrett left a stone cold eight pin. That meant Rash just needed a strike and six pins to secure the win, which he did easily.