Shocking Finish: Regional Title Decided By Two Gutter Balls

Brady Stearns won his first PBA Regional title in Mounds View, Minnesota, in what might have been the most bizarre ending in PBA Regional tournament history.

At the PBA Mermaid Lanes Midwest Open presented by Columbia 300 on June 9, Stearns defeated Nick Pate, 240-239, to win the title and $2,500 first prize after Pate, needing two pins on his fill ball after converting a 10 pin spare in the 10th frame, saw his final shot drift right into the gutter.

Ironically, Stearns had opened the door for Pate in similar fashion just moments earlier. Working on a string of six strikes including the first two in his 10th frame, Stearns also threw his final shot into the gutter to give Pate an easier chance to win. Had Stearns struck on his fill ball, he would have forced Pate to also strike on his first shot in the 10th for the title, but his gutter meant Pate only had to spare and get two pins.

LISTEN: Stearns, Pate talk about gutters on Sweep The Rack podcast

Adding to the irony, the Mermaid Lanes Midwest Open was contested on the Del Ballard Jr. lane oiling pattern. The lane conditioning pattern was named in honor of the PBA Hall of Famer who infamously rolled a gutter ball on his final shot to lose the 1991 PBA Fair Lanes Open title to Pete Weber.

“It was the most bizarre finish I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been involved with the PBA since 1976 – 43 years. And I bowled a few years before that,” said veteran PBA East Region Manager Russ Mills, who served as tournament director for the event. “I thought Nick was going to throw it right down the middle, but he didn’t. I don’t think he was aware of the situation, but hopefully he’ll learn from it.”

Click below to watch the shocking finish:

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