Los Angeles X franchise player Jason Belmonte would have been an excellent contestant on that 1960s television bowling series “Make That Spare.”
Belmonte (shown in photo) found himself in a critical spot with the match on the line in a Professional Bowlers Assn. League semifinal against the New York City WTT KingPins – as shown Sunday on ESPN.
Belmonte stared down at a 3-4-7-10 split in the ninth frame of the decisive team competition.
The four pins are known as “grandma’s teeth” – or an array of pins that resembles a mouth with missing teeth.
If he converted it, the X would take the lead against the defending-champion KingPins at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich.
Belmonte fired his shot at the 3-10 and sent the three pin racing to the left side of the lane where it knocked down the four and seven pins.
That spare forced Pete Weber to rack up two strikes in the 10th frame to allow the KingPins to regain the lead.
When Weber’s first shot left the four pin, it allowed anchor Parker Bohn III to seal the match for the X if he could make a spare (and a good count) in the 10th frame. Bohn then threw a strike to allow the X to score a 5-1 victory over the defending-champion KingPins and move into the Elias Cup finals.
The X will face the winner of the other semifinal match, which will pair the Philadelphia Hitmen against the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters. That match will be aired next Sunday on ESPN.
Belmonte, who last month became the first player to repeat as United States Bowling Congress Masters champion in nearly 50 years, turned in the most exciting moment of the match.
But earlier, Bohn and teammate Mika Koivuniemi fashioned another thriller when they combined on a 299 game to win the alternate-ball doubles. Bohn, a left-hander, and Koivuniemi, a right-hander, alternated strikes until the game’s last shot when Bohn left a solid 10 pin.
Still, the big conversation of the day was Belmonte’s split conversion – which was a worthy “sweepstakes shot” on “Make That Spare.”
“I wasn’t too confident; that was an interesting looking spare,” Belomonte told PBA’s Bill Vint. “I didn’t know whether to hook it or throw my spare ball, but I threw my spare ball straight at it and it paid off.”
Belmonte was hopeful on his first shot in the ninth frame.
“I thought it was a strike off my hand, but then I saw it hook and there were grandma’s teeth staring at me,” he said.
The X has now won both its matches this year. It opened the season with a 4-2 victory over the BROOKLYN STyLES.