By Rob Kiser
Piqua senior bowler Travis Smith likes a challenge — and he couldn’t of asked for much more of one Monday at Beaver-Vu Lanes.
After Piqua and Xenia had finished their GWOC American match tied at 2,160, Smith was selcted for the bowl-off to determine the winner.
And his opponents just happened to be defending state champion Ethan Gevendon.
After both bowlers threw four strikes in the roll-off (ninth and 10th frames), Smith was able to come away two pins better in the second roll-off to give Piqua a 2,269-2267 win the win, improving the Indians to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in GWOC American action.
“There was definitely a rush of blood,” Smith said about bowling the defending champion on his own lanes.
Piqua coach Craig Miller had confidence in his pick.
“Austin (Jenkins) had bowled a 240 in his first game,” Miller said. “But, Travis (Smith) had rolled a 203 in his second game. He rolled that on the same two lanes. Austin could have done the same thing (been in the roll-off). But, Travis was seeing something the other guys weren’t seeing (with his line on the lanes).”
Miller knew Smith would step up.
“He had bowled against him at district last year and done pretty well,” Miller said. “Now, whether he could beat him when the kid (Ethan Gevendon) was bowling on his home lanes, that is another question.”
Both bowlers started the first roll-off with a strike.
After Gevendon rolled three strikes in the 10th, Smith calmly stepped up an answered him to force a rolloff.
“Travis probably had a few fortunate breaks — a couple Brooklyn’s during the roll-offs — but that is what it takes,” Miller said.
Again in the second roll-off, both started with strikes in the ninth. After Gevendon struck on his first ball in the 10th, he came in high and got an eight-count, leaving a split and only picked up one of the two pins on the split, giving Smith an opening.
After Smith started his 10th with a strike, he followed with a nine-spare to secure the victory.
“I was hoping to get two strikes,” Smith said. “But, I tugged the second ball a little. Fortunately I got nine pins and picked up the spare. This definitely is something that is going to give me confidence.”
Miller said it was something that will benefit the whole team.
“You really don’t understand the situation until you have been in something like that,” Miller said. “Fortunately, that gives us two wins in the crossover matches with the South.”
Austin Jenkins has 240-169—409 to lead the Indians, while Smith followed with games 194 and 203 for a 397 series.
Nick Jess had 183-168—351, Ethan Gevendon had 170-165—335 and Terry Perkins had a 156 game.
Piqua had games of 920 and 861, while Xenia rolled games of 967 and 810 to give Piqua four-pin lead going to the baker games.
In the first baker game, Xenia rolled a 182 to Piqua’ 178 tying the match. Both rolled 201 in the second baker game, forcing the overtime but that doesn’t really tell the story.
Smith had to throw three strikes in the 10th frame of the baker game, just to force the roll-off.
“At the end of the second game, I changed balls,” Smith said. “I thought I could get a better line and I did. I was pretty confident (going into the baker games). “
Miller was happy to get the win.
“Travis (Smith) struck out in the 10th to get us in the roll-off,” Miller said. “But, we really shouldn’t have been in that position. We had opens in the seventh, eighth and ninth. We talk about how important spares are, but sometimes those things are going to happen.”
And after it was over, Miller knew had made the right decision for the roll-off.
“I was kind of looking as senior leadership,” Miller said. “As a coach all I can say is “Wow what a match!”.
Despite a strong performance from Rayna Brownlee, the Piqua girls bowling team lost to Xenia 1,993-,1810.
“It was an up and down kinda nigh,” Piqua coach Jason Jenkins said. “We had some really bright spots and some not so bright spots during the match tonight. We had two ladies bowl well tonight,”
Brownlee had games of 201 and 222 for a 424 series, while Kyra Buchanan had games of 157 and 173 for a 329 series and Abby Rudd added a 148.
“Rayna bowled great tonight and has been carrying the team all year long,” Jenkins said. “Kyra is starting to heat up as well.”
Piqua had baker games of 184 and 167.
“Our spare game tonight is what derailed most of the girls tonight, but the ladies are coming around as tonight is our highest pin total of the year so far,” Jenkins said.
Piqua will be back in action Friday at Stebbins.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.