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Bartlett edges Yoshihara by single pin in final game of Prove It Challenge

Donny Bartlett won the $540 top prize in last Sunday's Prove It Challenge.
Donny Bartlett won the $540 top prize in last Sunday's Prove It Challenge.
photo by Chuck Souzer

Donny Bartlett of Sarasota outlasted a 34-player field on Sunday (Feb. 23) to emerge victorious in the latest in a series of Prove It Scratch Challenge tournaments at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes.

Bartlett was top qualifier in the five-game opening round with a pinfall of 1,047, and he secured the title and the first-place prize of $540 with three consecutive match-play triumphs.

The deciding final game went down to the wire, with Bartlett surviving by a single pin, 209-208, over runner-up Don Yoshihara of Tampa.

After converting a key tenth-frame spare, Yoshihara needed a final-ball 8-count to tie and 9-count to win, but he lost by a single pin when he suffered a 7-count washout.

Only two players -- Bartlett and Jon Rakoski of Estero, who rolled 1,011 -- managed to average 200 or better in the qualifying round, and the players struggled with demanding lane conditions.

"What should have been one of our highest-scoring conditions turned out to be a lower-than-anticipated (35-foot) scoring pattern," said tournament director Chuck Souzer. "Only a few players decided to try and play the shot from outside near the gutter, and most of those who didn't struggled on the short oil."

In addition to Bartlett and Rakoski, the other bowlers qualifying for match play were Dennis Beagle of Fort Myers (997), John Hough of Naples (996), Yoshihara (955), Paul Nicolazzi of Bradenton (948), Jason Ferrill of Sarasota (948) and Joe Heinke of Tampa (943).

In the first match-play round, Bartlett topped Heinke 161-133, Ferrill downed Rakoski 209-188, Beagle beat Nicolazzi 181-174, and Yoshihara routed Hough 225-155.

In the final-four round, Bartlett bested Rakoski 172-165 and Yoshihara defeated Beagle 220-180, and including 30 "bonus pins" for each match-play win, Yoshihara led Bartlett by 20 pins (1,460-1,440), meaning that the winner of the next game would emerge with the championship, regardless of the margin.

Next Prove It Challenge: March 23 at AMF Gulf Gate

The next in the Prove It Challenge series will take place at AMF Gulf Gate on Sunday, March 23, with check-in from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., and practice beginning at 1:15 p.m.

Entry fee will remain at $55, and optional brackets and Nassaus will be available at $5 and $10, respectively. Souzer plans to put out as 46-foot Challenge oil pattern, and the graph will be posted on the tournament Web site prior to the event. To visit the Web site, click here.

In 10 Prove It Challenges, there has yet to be a two-time winner. Heinke won the January competition, and the winners in 2013 were Jesse Hawver of Sarasota (November), Daniel Gassera of Port Charlotte (October), Saul Insignares of Sarasota (September), James McCleland of Venice (August), David Shedrow of Parrish (July), Rakoski (June), Aaron Albritton of Sarasota (May) and Beagle (April).

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