Portland and Motown go undefeated to bolster playoff positioning

The Las Vegas High Rollers have gained control of the PBA Elite League presented by Snickers’ top seed. They stand alone atop the league with a 7-2 record.

However, the three-time Elias Cup champion Portland Lumberjacks charged into the No. 2 seed with a pair of comeback wins on Tuesday night.

Four of the league’s eight teams competed twice on Tuesday night. The remaining Round 10 matches — KingPins vs. Strikers and High Rollers vs. Wonders — will take place in Las Vegas March 30 at 7pm ET on FS1.

On Tuesday, Portland picked up match victories over the New Jersey KingPins, who previously were tied for the top seed, and Akron Atom Splitters during Rounds 9-10 at Mid County Lanes and Entertainment.

In both Race-to-Two matches, the Lumberjacks fell behind 1-0. The team’s cohesion showed as they rallied to win both matches.

“They want to be here. They want to win. I think that means something in this event,” Portland manager Tim Mack said. “Prather wasn’t feeling well, Graham (Fach)’s also sick. We’ve got probably one of the hottest bowlers right now in Kyle. It was a massive team effort because everyone threw shots tonight. I’m really proud of the guys.”

With their second win over Akron this season, Portland now owns a virtual two-game lead as they have clinched the tiebreaker over the Atom Splitters.

“After we lost Game 1, we said we wanted to have some fun,” Mack said. “With the quality of bowlers that are in the league, you’ve got to have some good fortune with some good shot-making and then some good team chemistry. We were able to pull out two victories tonight. Moving forward, as far as getting to Portland, that puts us in a great position.”

The biggest winner of the night was the Motown Muscle, who picked up two victories and distanced themselves from the playoff bubble. Motown avenged their televised loss to the Waco Wonders, then took down Jason Belmonte and the Lucky Strike L.A. X.

Motown also secured a potential tiebreaker over the Waco Wonders with a dominant two-game sweep. Motown led Waco 838-798 in their four head-to-head games this season.

“These wins tonight, and the win over Waco, were pretty important,” acting manager EJ Tackett said. “I know Waco has had a tough run of it so far, but they’re the defending champs and any team can get hot. Winning that match against them and (getting the pinfall tiebreaker), that’s huge for the bubble.

Tackett said the team switched up their lineup tonight in hopes of getting into a flow. He said Anthony Simonsen, who didn’t feel great about his ball reaction, offered to move from fourth to third and make room for Jason Sterner to be the set-up man.

“We've been struggling to get everything to flow together and we got everything to flow tonight. The results showed for themselves,” Tackett said. “I think we learned a lot tonight, so hopefully we can keep that in the memory bank next time we bowl.”

The Muscle moved to 5-5 and in fifth overall. They sit one game ahead of L.A. X. and three games in the win column ahead of the seventh-placed GoBowling Dallas Strikers.

Dallas’ Round 9 match followed their season-long trend: They shot 214 and 221 and were swept by the High Rollers.

The 2-7 Strikers rank third with a 217.78 average, but their opponents have nearly 227 on the season.

PBA Elite League action resumes next month in Las Vegas with the conclusion of Round 10 on March 30 at 7pm ET on FS1.

Rounds 11-12 will take place as part of the World Series of Bowling XV in Allen Park, Mich. in early April.

Of the remaining 18 regular-season matches, eight will air on FS1 with the remaining 10 matches livestreamed on BowlTV.

More information on the PBA Elite League is available here.

Round 9 Results

Portland def. New Jersey, 2-1 (179-214, 248-226, 30-28)
Akron def. L.A. X, 2-0 (224-172, 246-216)
Las Vegas def. Dallas, 2-1 (249-214, 210-221, 30-30, 8-7)
Motown def. Waco, 2-0 (258-199, 250-204)

Round 10 Results

Motown def. L.A. X, 2-0 (235-216, 212-203)
Portland def. Akron, 2-1 (193-255, 257-208, 29-29, 10-9)


Team, Record, Pinfall

  1. Las Vegas High Rollers, 7-2, 3,928
  2. Portland Lumberjacks, 7-3, 4,365
  3. New Jersey KingPins, 6-3, 3,743
  4. Akron Atom Splitters, 6-4, 4,158
  5. Motown Muscle, 5-5, 4,262
  6. Lucky Strike L.A. X, 4-6, 4,247
  7. GoBowling Dallas Strikers, 2-7, 3,920
  8. Waco Wonders, 1-8, 3,674