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Angelo receives hug with fourth Obie title

Brielle Angelo, who will turn 9 today, received an early birthday present Sunday.

Her dad, Brad Angelo, won his fourth George A. Obenauer Masters bowling championship at Transit Lanes, handily defeating John Szczerbinski twice to win the title.

Angelo became only the second four-time champion in Obenauer history -- Mike Neumann is the other -- and the title came almost nine years to the date of his last one in 2003.

"That one was special because it was the day before Brielle was born," Angelo said. "It was nice that she could be here to see her dad bowl again."

Brielle, whom her dad calls "Munchie" -- short for Munchkin was there to give the champion a hug after he was presented the $2,000 winner's check and plaque by Greater Buffalo USBC Association President Greg Merkle.

Szczerbinski defeated Angelo, 673-618, in the winners bracket final while Jeff Tycz of Cheektowaga was eliminating top qualifier Jack Jurek, 644-606.

Angelo eliminated Tycz, 633-592, then hooked up with Szczerbinski twice and never trailed in either match.

Angelo led by 65 pins after two games of their first three-game total pinfall match when he started off with 255 and 248. The final count was 723-682.

That forced a second three-game match to decide the championship, and this time Szczerbinski had no chance. Angelo finished the opening game with 10 strikes in a row for a 280 to his opponent's 205. He stretched his lead to 168 pins after outshooting Szczerbinski in the second game, 238-165, and the third game was a mere formality.

After finishing fourth in the tournament qualifying, Angelo won his first two matches, shooting only 560 and 584. However, he adjusted as the week went on.

Turns out Angelo was using makeshift equipment.

"All of my main bowling balls -- probably 32 are on the Tour truck, which is sitting in Indiana. All of my equipment is there," he explained.

Using balls that he "had tucked away in the back of the garage," Angelo added some new grips, weights and had one redrilled. He got more comfortable with the equipment as the week went on.

"I had a great draw in match play," Angelo said. "Fortunately for me, guys didn't bowl that well against me and I was able to stay alive."

Also helping was his familiarity with the lanes at Transit and learning more about the USBC Open oil pattern that was put down for the tournament.

"I used one ball on the right lane and another on the left," he said. "I really think that was the difference today. John really struggled finding something on the right lane [in the final match]."

Runner-up Szczerbinski bowled some of the highest scores in the tournament until Sunday.

He simply got swamped in the two final matches.

"It's tough to beat great bowling," said Szczerbinski, 24, who is very active on the PBA Regional circuit as well as in local league bowling. He received the runner-up check of $1,250 and paid entry to the 2013 USBC Masters Tournament in North Brunswick, N.J.

Angelo won other Obenauer titles in 1991 and 2001, defeating Jurek each time.