PBA Regional Recap: Schenck, Hess and Runk Win Final RPI Qualifiers of the Season
Okay, this time I promise: the Regional Tour season really is winding down. After more than 150 regional tournaments this year, only 11 regular-season events remain. All of the qualifying events for the 2023 PBA and PBA50 Regional Players Invitational have wrapped up, leaving qualified bowlers just an ”I’ll be there” email away.
The final rosters for the PBA and PBA50 RPIs, which will be held Jan. 2-4, 2024 at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, will be announced soon.
Speaking of South Point, the venue held the final RPI-qualifier tournament of the season in the West Region, while Plaza Bowl in Iowa also awarded three bowlers a shot at history.
Read on to find out how each bowler made their mark in this week’s PBA Regional Recap:
PBA Non Champions presented by South Point Casino
In the opening act of the trio of South Point events, a first-time champion was declared in the one-day event. Tim Ursillo guided the top 16 into the single-elimination bracket at +261 for eight games in the one-day event. Ursillo won his first two matches, but lost in the semifinal to Tyler Betz, 205-194. Meanwhile, Michael Tang came away with a slim 246-244 win over Fero Williams in the other semifinal. In the finals, Tang couldn’t recoup the magic and fell to Betz, 193-164.
PBA Non Champions presented by South Point Casino Final Standings
- Tyler Betz, $2,300
- Michael Tang, $1,600
- Tim Ursillo, $1,100
- Fero Williams, $1,100
PBA50 South Point Classic - West RPI Qualifier
The PBA50 division took to the lanes on the 43-foot Earl Anthony pattern. Scott Critchfield started with the lead as the top 24 players after eight games moved on to the advancer round. After another five games, Critchfield held on at +347 with Tom Hess close behind at +330. But after the next advancer round, those two flip-flopped for the top two seeds in the stepladder finals, while Steven Smith and Tom Adcock took the third and fourth seeds.
In the first match, Smith split in half of his first six frames and couldn’t make it up as Adcock went on to win 190-141. The tables turned in the next match as Adcock left back-to-back splits in the seventh and eighth frames and lost 244-193 to Critchfield.
But in the finals against Hess, the splits then fell into the hands of Critchfield. With two splits and no doubles, Critchfield never got comfortable. Meanwhile Hess did what he does best: controlling the pocket and staying clean. Hess won 226-169 for his 15th regional title.
It won’t be the last time Critchfield, Smith, and Jerry Vertigan compete at South Point this season, as they all punched their ticket to the Regional Players Invitational. Hess and Adcock are ineligible for the PBA50 RPI as they finished top 10 on the PBA50 Tour points list.
PBA50 South Point Classic - West RPI Qualifier Final Standings
- Tom Hess, 2,500 points, $2,200
- Scott Critchfield, 1,500, $1,500
- Tom Adcock, 1,150, $1,300
- Steven Smith, 950, $1,100
PBA South Point Open - RPI West Qualifier
After the PBA50 guys wrapped up qualifying, the PBA division started qualifying. By Game 4, the initial round may as well have been over. Cortez Schenck slaughtered the field, averaging 254 with a 268, 290, 279, and 299 stretch in Games 2-5.
Schenck slowed down in the advancer round the next day, but still bowled well enough to earn the top seed. Matt Murtishaw joined in on the fun, grabbing the two-seed, while Darren Tang and PJ Haggerty kicked off the stepladder finals.
In the opening match, Tang and Haggerty each left a big split in the middle of their solid games. Haggerty could have shut out Tang, but a 10-pin in the ninth frame drained his hopes. Tang doubled in the 10th to win, 240-225. The second match wasn’t as close, Murtishaw split three times early in the match, and Tang cruised to a 224-171 win.
In the finals, Tang and Schenck each split once. Schenck, with ball in hand, doubled in the ninth and 10th frames to shut out Tang and win 230-207. This marks the reigning West Region Rookie of the Year’s fourth career regional title.
The tournament served as a taste of what’s to come for Schenck, Murtishaw, and Haggerty as they’ll be back in January to represent the West Region in the RPI.
PBA South Point Open - RPI West Qualifier Final Standings
- Cortez Schenck, 2,500 points, $2,400
- Darren Tang, 1,500, $1,600
- Matt Murtishaw, 1,150, $1,300
- PJ Haggerty, 950, $1,100
PBA The Plaza Bowl Midwest RPI
Meanwhile, another RPI qualifier presided at Plaza Bowl in Clinton, Iowa. Through 20 games of qualifying, an advancer round, and match play, two bowlers smoked the field on the 40-foot Amleto Monacelli pattern. Brandon Runk and Nate Purches went +910 and +898, respectively, and finished more than 250 pins ahead of third-placed Nate Stubler. The left-handed Nate earned the third seed in the mini-stepladder by 25 pins over Justin Knowles.
Stubler started strong in the first match, while Purches began with a split. Although Purches put together a five-bagger after his open frame, he could not catch up as Stubler moved on to the finals with a 268-227 win. After watching where Stubler was playing, the lefty Runk stepped in with no unanswered questions about the lanes. He began with the front-nine until a pesky 6-pin stood tall in the 10th. Runk won 279-201 and earned his second career regional title.
Runk, Purches, and Phillip Watson all earned spots in the RPI later this winter.
PBA The Plaza Bowl Midwest RPI Final Standings
- Brandon Runk, 2,500 points, $2,200
- Nate Stubler, 1,500, $1,600
- Nate Purches, 1,150, $1,200
- Justin Knowles, 950, $1,000
PBA Bowlero Columbia Open
For the final event of the early November weekend, the bowlers had to be quick to the punch on the Cheetah pattern. Kennon McFalls shot 300 in his third of eight games to lead at +458, while Chris Colella went +51 to claim the last advancing spot. Fast forward to the final advancer round, Nick Pate, Dick Allen, McFalls, and Kenny Ryan — separated by just 68 pins — had one more game before the one-game final.
Pate held strong, shooting a 258 to claim the top spot at +780. McFalls initially was just 24 pins back of the two-spot, but a 247 with two late splits after the front seven dropped him to fourth. Dick Allen shot a 235 with four straight spares in frames 7-10, but Kenny Ryan delivered a 278 to prop him to second by just six pins.
All pins dropped for the one-game final, and the bowlers gave the fans an astounding match. Pate threw a five-bagger to ultimately lead him to a 248-227 win for his third regional title.
PBA Bowlero Columbia Open Final Standings
- Nick Pate 2,500 points, $3,000
- Kenny Ryan, 1,500, $1,500
- Dick Allen, 1,150, $1,025
- Kennon McFalls, 950, $1,025
PBA East Providence Lanes/StrikeFX Open
For the lone tournament held in Rhode Island this season, East Providence Lanes threw down the 43-foot Earl Anthony pattern for the bowlers and watched the pins fly. Rhode Island’s own Jon Van Hees led at +208 for eight games with plenty of players in range to catch up. After the next two advancer rounds, Tom Sorce seized the lead by seven pins over Alex Aguiar, while Andrew Hall 300 in the first advancer round helped him claim the three-seed.
Adam Chase earned the final spot in the stepladder and took full advantage of the opportunity. Chase topped Hall 225-213 in the opening match and then took down Aguiar 226-179. Chase completed the sweep in the finals by defeating Sorce 235-207. Chase earned his first title, a banner, and $2,500.
PBA East Providence Lanes/StrikeFX Open Final Standings
- Adam Chase, 2,500 points, $2,500
- Tom Sorce, 1,500, $1,400
- Alex Aguiar, $1,100
- Andrew Hall, 950, $1,100
View the season-long points standings in each region here.