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Brian Eaton didn't want to be the "trophy boy" in the Rochester Open.

The trophy boy in Professional Bowlers Association language is the qualifier in the 24th and final spot at the end of match play.

On the telecasts, when of the match-play qualifiers -- after the five stepladder finalists -- are shown on the screen, they are seen in pairs, starting with the sixth and seventh places. By the time they get to the 24th spot, there is only one bowler remaining and he shares his half-screen with a picture of the tournament trophy, thus the nickname.

That was the position Eaton occupied with one block of match play remaining Tuesday night. After two blocks and a 3-13 record, the 27-year-old from Amherst was in the uncomfortable 24th spot.

"I don't want to be the "trophy boy,' " Eaton said. Thanks to games of 205, 242, 212, 228, 203, 224, 196 and 221, he rallied with a 6-2 record, finished 9-15 and moved up two places to finish 22nd.

"It was a small victory," Eaton said after his closing rush, "but it was a victory."

Eaton didn't rejoin the tour for his second PBA season this year until the 11th event, in Erie, Pa., in April. He cashed in his first two events this year -- a tie for 15th in Erie's Flagship Open ($1,988) and 12th in the Bud Light Championship in Sayville, L.I. ($3,800).

He went six more tournaments without a check until earning $1,290 in Rochester. Eaton will skip next week's event and bowl just one more tournament to cap his season. This will give him a total of 10 tournaments, keeping him one under the number that would put him in Class I status. As long he stays out of Class I he will be eligible for many of the big money "amateur" tournaments.

Angelo cashes

Brad Angelo's 16th-place finish ($1,460) in Rochester came in his first -- and his last, at least for this year -- PBA event. After cashing once he would need to get a PBA card to enter again.

That's not something he's willing to do, as it would foul up his 1997 status with Team USA and also alter his amateur standing for a number of other events.

Angelo said his earnings this year as an amateur would place him third on a comparative basis with the PBA's money list. Steve Wilson is third with just over $126,000, while Walter Ray Williams is second with a little over $187,000, while Bob Learn Jr., thanks to a $100,000 bonus for his televised 300 game, leads with nearly $210,000.

"I was surprised the conditions were easier than I expected," Angelo said. "Don't get me wrong. That's not a knock on the PBA. It's just from what I heard from other guys on the tour, that on average the scores wouldn't be this high."

Angelo averaged 221 and Pete Weber had the high 42-game average of 237.5.

"These guys are still the best in the world -- for them to do this week after week and shoot the scores they do is amazing," Angelo said. "They certainly have the advantage (over amateurs). They know how to pace themselves.

"I'm used to bowling just a few games or a couple of shifts and I'm done (in amateur tournaments). It was hard for me to be mentally sharp game after game. My scores tended to go up and down because of the pace."

Clinton breaks Orchard Park mark

Chris Clinton's 826 series in the Ron Stranz Memorial League established a house record for Orchard Park Lanes. The 25-year-old lanes manager had a 300 and a 279 game in his big set.

His game has improved "big time recently," Clinton said of his third 300 and second 800 in the last three years. He said he was inspired by teammate Chris Weiler's 300 three nights earlier.

"The shot was there for me the whole game," Clinton said.

A right-hander, Clinton followed his 300 with nine strikes in his last game for 21 in a row. A 4-pin broke his streak but he made the spare and struck on his last shot for the 279.

Clinton, who said "Gene Rutkowski taught me the fundamentals of the game," might have had 27 in a row except he left a solid 10-pin on his 11th shot in the first game after a five-bagger.

John Nowak held the previous lanes record with an 823 about six years ago.

Angola's Wilson tops 800

John Wilson of Angola cranked out an 802 at Chick's Lanes three days after shooting a 799 on the same pair.

The 26-year-old right-hander said the circumstance in the last frame of each set was nearly the same.

"I had an eight-count on the 10th ball on a light hit that didn't make it back (in the 799). I needed a double and nine," Wilson said.

"I had a nine-count in the 10th in almost the exact situation (in the 802). I needed a double and seven." The nine pins put him two over the 800 barrier.

"I was excited to be back on the same pair," said Wilson, who had his 799 in the Stroh's Tavern League on a Friday and came back in the Angola Pennysaver League on Monday.

A NYNEX field technician, Wilson holds the Dunkirk Association record of 846 and has four 300s on his resume. In Dunkirk's city championships he has won the singles, doubles and five-man titles and he has been on the title-winning team in four of the last five years.

Hall of Fame tickets on sale

Tickets for the Buffalo Bowling Association's 14th Hall of Fame installation and dinner Nov. 23 at the Statler Golden Ballroom are available for $30. For reservations, call the BBA at 842-6610.

The honorees are Dick Ciprich, outstanding ability; Frank Strano, meritorious service, and the late Chuck Healy, veterans section.

Around the lanes

Conbow's second three-game Handicap Singles Tournament will be held today and Sunday at Thruway Lanes. First place is $500. Entry is $24 and re-entry $22. Squad times are 3 and 4:30 p.m. today and noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m. Sunday, with match-game finals at 4:30.

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