ALBANY — Strikes were hard to come by for most of the 52-player field in the Northern Bowlers
Association’s Sunset Open at Sunset Recreation, but Mike Bixler found the right equipment and the right line in his final game to rally for his first NBA title Sunday.
Bixler, a 29-year-old left-hander, strung eight consecutive strikes and finished with a 256 to edge Jeff Young by 13 pins. The general manager of Spare Time Latham finished with a five-game total of 1,068, while Young, from Delmar, shot a 1,053. Brainard’s Dave Bingham was third with a 1,050, while Bob Smith of Ballston Spa and Bob Faragon of Schenectady rounded out the top five with a 1,036 and a 1,033, respectively.
Bixler averaged only 216 on the demanding condition. Low to cash was Watervliet’s
Travis Winglosky, who finished with a 982, an average of less than 200.
Bingham, bowling in his first NBA event in five years, took the lead after game four with a 279, but he struggled with a 169 on the end pair in his final game.
Faragon, who was second going into the fifth game, also struggled with a 157 finale.
That meant that the winner was going to have to rally from behind. Young, who shot a 252 in his fourth game, had a chance to strike out for the title, but he crossed over on his first toss of the 10th frame, and then missed a 6-pin for a 202.
Bixler, who was in seventh place going into the final game, missed a 7-pin in the second frame, but then put together the eight-bagger for the win.
“I was just guessing out there in the final game,” said Bixler, who has 57 perfect games and 46 800 triples on his resume. “I was just fighting for a check. I had no idea I had a chance to win. I switched balls to an Ebonite NVS, and hoped for the best.”
Originally from Pennsylvania until he moved to the Capital Region about five years ago, Bixler once averaged 248 in his home area. Currently, he is averaging 231 at Spare Time Latham and 238 at Spare Time Clifton Park.
“This was a very competitive condition today, and it was very important to throw good shots and to make your spares,” he said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t shooting my spares that well today, and that’s unusual for me.”
The tournament was co-sponsored by The Daily Gazette and the Albany Bowling News.
Cashers — Mike Bixler (Latham) 1,068, $820; Jeff Young (Delmar) 1,053, $410; Dave Bingham (Brainard) 1,050, $240; Bob Smith (Ballston Spa) 1,036, $160; Bob Faragon (Schenectady) 1,033, $120; Bob Caputo Jr. (Fort Johnson) 1,029, $95; Mike Drexel (Delanson) 1,025, $80; Steve Rock (Hudson Falls) 1,014, $70; Ron Gardner (Troy) 991, $65; Travis Winglosky (Watervliet) 982, $60.
Other top bowlers — Dan Auricchio 972, Lee Aiezza 971, Ron Unser 963, Bob Haines 958, Pete Dougherty 948, Justin Barcomb 947, Andy Smith 934, Pete Linck 932, Nick Miseno 932, Jacob Shank 931, Nunzi Manuli 930, Kyle Haines 924, Ken Stroud 921, Chris Ahl 917, David Henderson 917, Mark James 913, Mike Brower 911, Al Roth 905, Craig Taylor 902, Jim Howlan 887, George Bristol 886, Ray Evans 873, Art Van Buren 869, Gus Lampo Jr. 864, Jeremy Yando 854, Jeff Whitehouse 853, Les Douglas 852, Dan Ahl 827, Tony Impellizzeri 826, Russ Hunter 824, Chris Tinkle 819, Nick Silvano 813.