Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga put together a good run at the Rolltech PBA World Championship at National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., but his quest to win another major title and piece of history came up short Thursday night on national television.
That’s because the lefty ran into another sizzling, unflappable left-hander in Gary Faulkner Jr., who proved to be colder than ice en route to winning his first major title in his first television experience. Ciminelli lost in the second-to-last match of the stepladder finals to eventual tournament champion Faulkner, 247-237.
Faulkner, the fourth seed from Memphis, Tenn., followed by routing top qualifier E.J. Tackett, 216-178, to earn the $60,000 first-place check. Ciminelli took third, earning $25,000.
Faulkner is just the second African-American bowler to ever win a PBA Tour title, joining George Branham III – a five-time winner who also was the first to win a major (1993 Firestone PBA Tour of Champions).
Against Ciminelli, Faulker strung together four strikes in the first five frames to jump to the early lead. Ciminelli, who recorded just one strike in the first five frames while figuring out the oil pattern, responded with five straight strikes. He just missed a strike on his second ball of the 10th frame, dropping nine pins.
Faulkner, who finished with seven strikes to Ciminelli’s six, closed with a spare and nine in the final frame to secure the nail-biting win.
Ciminelli, 29, fell short of becoming the fourth Tour pro to win three straight titles in the United States. Ciminelli won the PBA Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open in November and followed that by winning the Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open last month. Johnny Petraglia is the last bowler to win three titles in row, back in 1971. Hall of Famer Dick Weber achieved the feat twice.