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Silver Lake Atom Splitters defeat L.A. X to claim PBA League title

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The Los Angeles X may have had the best player, but the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters had the best team.

Silver Lake gave owner Chris Hardwick the championship of the 2014 Professional Bowlers Assn. League with a 4-2 victory over the X in the Elias Cup finals at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, N.J.

The second annual Elias Cup – dubbed “the Battle of Los Angeles” – was shown Sunday on ESPN.

Jason Belmonte, the X’s franchise player, showed why he's the reigning PBA player of the year. He staged a sensational effort in the match’s opening game by winning the singles competition over Chris Barnes, 279-259. Belmonte opened the game with nine strikes.

But Barnes, Silver Lake’s franchise player, came back to help the Atom Splitters win the decisive team competition, 225-203. Silver Lake rolled seven strikes in a row at the end behind Barnes (shown in photo), Bryon Smith, Dom Barrett, Wes Malott and Tommy Jones.

After Belmonte gave the X a 1-0 lead with his singles win, Barnes teamed with Smith to defeat Parker Bohn III and Mika Koivuniemi in the alternate-shot doubles game to even the match at 1-1.

The X came back to win the trios contest with Belmonte, Andres Gomez and EJ Tackett to regain the match’s lead, 2-1.

But the Atom Splitters won the team competition, which was worth three points, to avenge their regular-season loss to the X last season.

“The most important thing is to have a lineup where you know everyone has your back,” said Barnes to the PBA’s Jerry Schneider. “Whether you strike or split. you have to know that the guy behind you is giving it his all.

“You have to remember that the singles game is the only part of the tournament where you’re not bowling with a teammate(s). Personally, I felt these guys put me in a position to succeed. I couldn’t think of a better group of guys who had that ‘have-your-back’ mentality.”

Barnes was named the league’s Mark Roth most valuable player award.

Last year, the X finished fifth and the Atom Splitters sixth in the regular season and both did not advance to the Elias Cup in the league’s inaugural season. The top four teams advanced to the Elias Cup in 2013.

Silver Lake advanced to this year’s Elias Cup with a 5-1 victory over the Dallas Strikers and a 6-0 sweep of the Philadelphia Hitmen. The X scored victories of 4-2 over the BROOKLYN STyLES and 5-1 over the defending-chamipion New York City WTT KingPins.

The Elias Cup is named after the late PBA Hall of Famer Eddie Elias, who founded the PBA in 1958.

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