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In the final round of qualifying, Stoney Baker tumbled down the standings so far that it was uncertain whether or not he would even make the cut at the USBC Senior Masters. Two days later, he finds himself as the top seed for the stepladder finals.
The Canton, Georgia, resident who bowls in the PBA South Region, took down PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke in the battle for the top seed, 717-672, Saturday afternoon at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas. He will bowl for the title in Sunday’s stepladder finals.
Baker entered the final round of qualifying Thursday having to bowl on the fresh and put up his lowest qualifying five-game block of the tournament with 962. After waiting around for the other two squads to finish, Baker ended up making the cut as the No. 60 seed, just 11 pins ahead of the cut line.
On the way to the top seed, Baker took down three PBA Hall of Famers, including Duke, as he went undefeated in six matches in the double-elimination bracket. As the undefeated top seed, Baker must be defeated twice in the title match of the stepladder finals.
Baker started match play with a 677-642 win over Parker Bohn III and followed it up by defeating Noel Vazquez (646-638), Michael Klosin (681-587), Blaine Weninger (679-615) and Ron Mohr (772-680) before topping Duke.
As the loser in the match for the top seed, Duke earned the No. 2 seed for the stepladder finals. His performance Saturday included a dramatic run at a 900 series.
In his fourth match of the tournament (second of the day), Duke started with back-to-back 300 games against Tony Johnson. He opened Game 3 with five more strikes before going high and leaving a 3-6-10 to end his run. He posted an 863 series, while Johnson shot 765.
In the final match of the elimination bracket, four players battled for the last three spots in the stepladder.
Gary Faulkner (719), Tom Adcock (711) and Amleto Monacelli (691) all advanced, while Ron Mohr was eliminated with 594.
Faulkner earned the third seed for the finals, while No. 4 Adcock and No. 5 Monacelli will meet in the opening match.