Warriors dominate in Regional singles

By on March 8, 2017
Warwick’s Ben White (left) and Isaac Erickson (right) are shown with their awards after battling head-to-head in the Eastern PA Regional championship match last Friday. Erickson came away with a 275-211 decision to win the title.

Warwick’s Ben White (left) and Isaac Erickson (right) are shown with their awards after battling head-to-head in the Eastern PA Regional championship match last Friday. Erickson came away with a 275-211 decision to win the title.

Erickson tops White for the Eastern PA crown

Isaac Erickson was no lock to make the singles bracket finals in the Eastern PA Regional Bowling Championships last Saturday.

In fact, the Warwick sophomore was biting his fingernails just waiting to see if he would advance out of the qualifying round.

“We probably waited 45 minutes after he threw his last shot (to learn his fate),” Warwick coach Neal Vital said. “That was nerve-wracking.”

It was worth the wait.

Erickson had indeed clinched the 12th and final spot, rolling a qualifying score of 1104 in five games at Leisure Lanes — a mere two pins ahead of Mifflinburg’s Austin Englehart (1102).

“To hear that score, it was pretty magical,” Vital said.

Not as magical as it would get for Warwick, though. Erickson, granted new life, advanced all the way to the championship match, where he faced none other than … Warrior teammate Ben White.

“That was the best moment of the year, for sure,” Vital remarked. “It was a proud moment for the program, period.”

White, a senior, grabbed the early lead with the first five strikes. Erickson, however, reached deep, rallied down the stretch and pulled out a 275-211 victory to clinch the Regional crown.

In his four games in the bracket finals, Erickson averaged an impressive 237.25.

“That whole four-game stretch,” Vital said, “was the best he threw consistently all year.”

Both Erickson and White advanced to the State Singles Championships, to be held next Friday, March 17 at Dutch Lanes.

But the only negative to the all-Warwick championship scenario, of course, was that one had to lose.

“I didn’t think about that before the match started,” Vital acknowledged. “I thought, ‘Here’s a win-win for me.’ But absolutely, when the first ball was thrown and I had a chance to just sit there and think about that, yeah, somebody was going to lose and I knew I was going to have a dejected second-place. But certainly better than had they lost to somebody else from another school.”

White emerged as the No. 2 seed from the qualifying round, having bowled five games of 233, 225, 244, 192, and 255, giving him a series total of 1149. Conrad Weiser’s Daniel Althouse was the top seed with an 1151. Both White and Althouse earned byes into the semi-finals.

The consistent scores logged by White were no surprise to Vital.

“He’s been that way from mid-season on,” Warwick’s coach said. “He just does not have a bad stretch. I said it last week (after Districts), he is such a great spare shooter and has been this year. Again, for him, that was the difference.”

Still, Erickson — thanks to marks of 179, 224, 224, and 279 in his first four games — had a 12-pin lead over White going into the fifth frame. There, Erickson rolled a 198 and the waiting game began. Until all the bowling was completed, the Warriors could only cross their fingers.

“He didn’t throw a bad game,” Vital said. “He had a couple bad breaks, but two pins separated him and 13th (Englehart). It made us sweat.”

There were some more tense moments in Erickson’s opening-round quad-match in the bracket finals. With little margin for error, he came up with a pivotal strike on his first ball in the 10th frame and ended up edging 9th-seeded Tanner Goggin, of Dauphin Vo-Tech, 243-238, for the right to move on. Exeter’s Antonio Reyes (191) and Conrad Weiser’s Austin Sweigart (186) also competed in the quad-match.

“Again, if he doesn’t (throw that strike), he’s out,” Vital said. “He gets that one clutch strike and he wins. How about that?”

After knocking off Liberty’s 4th-seeded Andrew Malozzi 208-173 in the quarter-finals, Erickson continued his streaking ways with a 223-192 conquest of Althouse in the semi-finals.

It was the same path followed at the District Three Championships on Saturday, Feb. 25 by Central Dauphin’s Dylan Zimmerman, who claimed the sixth and final seed in the singles finals.

“(Zimmerman) squeaked in by a couple pins and went on to win,” Vital said. “I’ve been there, and it’s almost like you got a freebie when you squeaked into the final round, and I think it can be an advantage to that guy. He’s a little more relaxed, I believe, since he’s almost feeling like he got a reprieve.”

White, meanwhile, took care of business in the semi-finals with a 214-157 win over Neshaminy’s Blaze Binkowski, setting the stage for the championship match.

Ultimately, Erickson capitalized on a strong finish to capture the Eastern PA Regional crown.

“I work on one specific thing with him and he did it in those four games,” Vital said. “What I’d like him to do is get just a little bit of loft when he releases the ball, and when he does, he does what he did on Friday. He’s good anyway, but for most bowlers, there is that one specific key to get the most out of them and he did it that day.”

Warwick’s Tony Lutz placed 34th overall out of 190 bowlers with 1018, while Cole Snavely was 153rd with a score of 832 in the qualifying round.

Manheim Central’s Tanner Michael finished in 50th place with a score of 1001.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they were unable to ride the momentum into Saturday’s team bowling at Leisure Lanes, as they placed 13th overall with a score of 4116.

White finished with a 715 in three games, good for the fifth-best individual score of the day and earning him All-Star honors. More than 200 bowlers competed in the Eastern Regional team competition.

Through three standard games, the Warriors had a score of 3066, placing them seventh. But they were unable to get the job done in the Baker games.

The top six teams — which included Penn Manor (4641) and Ephrata (4265) — advanced to the bracket finals. There, Pennsbury defeated Ephrata in the championship match. Both the Comets and Mounts advanced to the State Championships.

“We talked about it, you’ve got to be able to take the thrill of victory with the agony of defeat, as they say,” Vital remarked. “It just wasn’t our day. Ben had a great day. But overall as a team, there was some good competition and we just didn’t bowl quite to our normal standards.”

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