Just three pins separated a pair of bowling center employees as the Western Diner Northern Bowlers Association kicked off its season with the Western Diner Open Sunday at Town ‘n Country Lanes.
Jim Thomas, a 34-year-old pro shop operator from Binghamton, shot a 227 finale and then held off left-hander Jason Baker for the title. Baker, a Sharon Springs
native who now works for Jeff Voght at Iroquois Lanes in Canajoharie, shot a final game of 246, but missed a key 6-pin that would have given him the title.
It was the first NBA title for Thomas, a veteran tournament bowler who has captured some 40 scratch events in his career.
“I feel kind of bad because I kind of won through the back door,” said Thomas, referring to Baker’s mishap after stringing eight straight strikes in the final game.
“I’ve finished second or third a few times in the NBAs, and I’ve cashed in a bunch of them, but this is my first title. I haven’t won much lately, but my schedule has changed, and I’m hoping to bowl more. I was previously in construction, but now I’ve got more time to bowl because I’m in the business.”
Thomas said he bowls in a league just once a week, but travels throughout the Northeast, looking for good scratch tournaments.
“I haven’t really won anything in a while,” he said. “But when I was younger, I won the New York State Masters. I also finished seventh in the singles, eighth in the doubles and 25th in the all-around a few years ago at the ABCs.”
Thomas’ bowling resume includes 67 perfect games and 32 800 triples.
“I haven’t added to that total in quite some time, because the only league I bowl in is a sports or PBA condition league, and you don’t get big numbers in those leagues,” he said.
Thomas said his strength is grinding out spares in tough conditions.
“I just hang in there, no matter what the shot is,” he said. “I prefer the conditions to be harder. My spare game is good, and that keeps me in it. That’s why I cash so often. The younger guys sometimes don’t realize how important spare shooting is, especially when the conditions get a little tougher.”
Bob DiNuzzo fired a 290 in the opener of the five-game sweeper, and he still held the lead at plus-75 after two games.
Matt Sherman of Ravena shot a 268 in the third game to move into first place with a 704 triple.
But Schoharie’s Jamie Diamond grabbed the lead after the fourth game. Eight bowlers were within 22 pins going into the final game.
Baker, who was in 11th place heading into the finale, was in position to rally for the win after his eight strikes in a row, but left the 6-pin and then missed it.
“I had missed some spares earlier in the day, and I was kind of upset about that, but I’m not that upset about not winning the title,” said Baker. “The lanes were a little dry on the left side, so I had to go with a weaker ball. I didn’t throw the ball that well until the final game, but I finally found something.”
Thomas earned $930, while Baker took home $465.
Rounding out the cashers were Albany’s Lee Aiezza (1,094, $270), Sherman (1,092, $180), Nick Miseno of Amsterdam (1,090, $140), Gary Bingham of Brainard (1,085, $110), Diamond (1,083, $110), Jody Becker (1,067, $90), Steve Wagoner of Broadalbin (1,065, $80), Craig Schoonmaker of Glenville (1,062, $65) and Iggy Acevedo of Green Island (1,055, $60).
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