Brad Angelo of Lockport drew the 2-10 split on his first ball and never recovered Sunday in his semifinal loss to Billy Oatman of Chicago in the Denny's PBA Tour Motel 6 Classic at Strike Zone at Sunset Station.
Oatman easily won the game, 207-181, but was edged by Jason Couch, 236-228, in the championship game. It was the second title in a row for Couch, who captured the Dick Weber Open last week.
"I don't think I've ever had a run like this," said Couch, who was the top qualifier for the tournament. "In 1999 I made a show and two weeks later won my first Tournament of Champions but never have I gone third, sixth, win, win."
Oatman, trying to become the second African-American in history to win a Denny's PBA Tour title, nearly pulled off the upset. Couch put the pressure on him by striking twice in the 10th. Oatman needed two strikes to win. He got the first but the 10- pin stood on his second, giving Couch the win and the $25,000 prize.
The glare of television lights apparently does not agree with the Western New York contingent on the PBA Tour. Angelo drew another 2-10 split in his fourth frame while Oatman struck in three of his first four frames to build a 32-pin lead. Oatman had open frames in the fifth and ninth, but Angelo, who had only two pocket hits for strikes, could not capitalize.
The loss by Angelo, who never has won on the tour, extended the drought of the four exempt WNY bowlers since Tom Baker won the 2004 Denny's World Championship. Since then, Baker, Angelo, Joe Ciccone of Buffalo and Jack Jurek of Lackawanna have reached the television finals 12 times with no titles. They are 4-12 in TV games, including losses in the last six. Baker is the last to win a game -- 225-118 over Mike Scroggins in the Keystone State championship Dec. 11, 2005. He then lost to Patrick Allen in the championship match.