By Jim Hunter
July 23, 2013 7:00 a.m. —
The two-month waiting period was worth the wait for five local bowlers.
In April, the Plaza Lanes Pro Shop bowling team — consisting of Josh Dodson, Mike Almon, Scott Grinnell, Jason Easler and Rodrick Baird — competed in the 74th Annual Pennsylvania State Bowling Championships at Wilkes-Barre, and needless to say, stomped on the competition.
Fueled by four 700-plus series, Plaza Lanes Pro Shop rolled an eye-catching 3,579 series to win the PSBC team scratch event.
Getting stronger per game, PLPS’s games were 1,163, 1,197 and 1,219.
Individual breakdowns: Dodson (233-257-226—716), Almon (246-212-256—714), Grinnell (258-213-255—726), Easler (169-280-228—677) and Baird (257-239-254—746).
On their way back to Meadville, the Pro Shop keglers knew they were in first place, but the waiting game had just begun as the PSBC still had two more months of action.
Tick ... tick ... tick ... tick.
“Josh had the bracket guy texting him every weekend with the scores,” said Baird. “We were posted quite frequently as to what was happening.”
“We knew our score was good, but we didn’t know if it would stay on top,” said Easler, who formed the team. “Fortunately, it did.”
Plaza Lanes Prop Shop became the second local team in the last 11 years to win the PSBC team scratch event.
In 2002, Allegheny Tool — consisting of Don Granda Jr., Jeff Lee, Dave Zelasco, Bill Lynn and Jim Lynn — won the event in Altoona.
Baird, Almon and Easler also excelled on another team: Plaza Lanes Pro Shop 2. Teaming up with Erie legends Lee Eighmy and Chris Moffett, the PLPS2 squad — bowling the shift after PLPS1 — tossed the second highest scratch series with a 3,561. Games: 1,234, 1,152 and 1,175.
Baird was dynamite again with games of 278, 276 and 233 for a 787. Other series: Eighmy (751), Moffett (696), Almon (674) and Easler (653).
Easler makes key move
Although Easler was the only non-700 bowler on the state championship team, the right-hander possibly made the most crucial decision.
After coming up 50 pins short of his 219 average with a 169 in his opening game, the fiery Easler knew a change had to be made. He switched balls ... and a 280 game followed. After striking in the first frame and converting a spare in the second, Easler struck out.
“I left four 10-pins in practice, so I switched to my pearlized ball in the first game ... obviously, a bad decision on my part,” he said. “I went back to my regular ball in the second game and got it going.”
Grinnell comes through
Grinnell wasn’t on the original team.
A few months ago, Easler had to scramble to get his fifth member. After Brandon Desper backed out, fill-in Ryan Park was a late scratch — putting Easler and Dodson on the horn.
Grinnell to the rescue.
“Scott wanted to bowl on my other teams, but the spots were filled,” said Baird. “When this spot opened up, I called Scott immediately.”
In separate interviews with Dodson and Baird, Grinnell was spoken highly about. Prior to this past season, Grinnell missed the previous two years due to work-related issues.
Just ask Dodson and Baird, the soft-spoken Grinnell hasn’t lost a thing.
“I was very impressed by Scott’s performance,” said Dodson. “Here is a bowler who hadn’t bowled the last two years and he shoots a 726 in states. Enough said.”
It is the second state championship for Grinnell and Baird. In 2000, the explosive right-handers teamed together to win the PSBC doubles actual event.
“It’s pretty cool winning another state championship with Scott,” said Baird. “Like Josh said, Scott’s performance speaks volumes ... not bowling the last two years.”
Grinnell averaged 219 this past season in the Plaza Men’s League at Plaza Lanes.
The Plaza Lanes Pro Shop high rollers were honored for their accomplishment at the annual PSBC banquet on July 13 in Harrisburg. They met Professional Bowlers Association legend Johnny Petraglia.
“It was pretty cool talking to him and getting his autograph,” said Dodson.