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Bartlett wins second consecutive Prove It Challenge, making it three of four

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After tournament director Chuck Souzer began conducting a series of Prove It Scratch Challenge event, no bowler was able to become a two-time champion. And then, along came Donny Bartlett.

The 26-year-old Sarasota righthander has become the dominant Prove It bowler recently, and when he won again on Sunday (May 18) at AMF Venice Lanes, it was his second straight victory and third in the last four tournaments.

In his most-recent triumph, Bartlett led from start to finish in defeating a relatively small field of 19 entrants, who were competing on a 41-foot Scorpion pattern, which according to Souzer, "stung players at the wrong time."

"I really can't explain my recent string of successes," said Bartlett, who has been bowling since age 4, starting in his home town of Titusville (in Brevard County), and he was on the bowling team at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. "I recently got a new Storm Roto Grip (ball) drilled by Saul Insignares, and he has been working with my equipment, and a little bit with my physical game."

Bartlett moved to Sarasota in the middle of the 2012-2013 season, and he carried a 220 average for about a half-season in both Titusville and Sarasota.

After the five-game qualifying round, Bartlett set the pace with a 1,099 pinfall, while fellow Sarasotan Jesse Hawver -- a past Prove It champion -- was in the No. 2 position with 1,061. Also making the cut to match play were John Hough of Naples with 1,002 and James McCleland of Venice with 991.

In the Round of 4 -- with 30 "bonus pins" awarded for each match-play win -- McCleland outscored Bartlett 254-227, while Hough dispatched Hawver 244-178.

Entering the decisive final game, Bartlett held the advantage with a net total of 1,326, compared to Hough's 1,276, meaning that Hough needed to prevail by at least 21 pins to emerge victorious.

Bartlett opened the final rolloff with five consecutive strikes and seemed on his way to an easy win, even though Hough was clean through the first five frames. However, Bartlett suffered a sixth-frame split and Hough was able to string four strikes together before suffering a late split, enabling Bartlett to hold on for a 208-202 decision.

The champion pocketed the winner's check of $410, while Hough earned the second-place prize of $205.

The next Prove It tournament will be on June 22 at AMF Gulf Gate, and Souzer intends to utilize a 37-foot PBA Viper pattern. To visit the Prove It Challenge Web site, click here.

[You may subscribe to Bill Herald's Examiner.com bowling articles -- free of charge -- by clicking on "subscribe" near the top of the column, after which you will receive e-mail notification each time a new item is published.]

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