Ryan Ciminelli started with strikes in the first two frames then saw Sean Rash throw 10 straight strikes on his way to a 289 game and a victory over the Western New York native, who had 234, on Sunday in the championship match of the PBA Oklahoma Open at Firelake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla.
As the No. 1 seed for the stepladder finals, Ciminelli, now residing in Lancaster, S.C., had the comfort of knowing he could finish no worse than second place and collect $15,000. However, he had to sit while Rash, a seasoned and accomplished pro, got comfortable as he rolled past three opponents on his way to the title match. Rash collected $30,000.
The 37-year-old Rash took all the drama out of the final with a near perfect performance on the two different oil patterns used in the tournament. After leaving a 10-pin on his first ball, Rash did not leave a pin standing until he left the 10-pin on his final ball.
By then he had clinched the match, closing out Ciminelli with a strike in the ninth. Rash struck on 20 of the last 24 frames he bowled in the finals.
All rounds in the tournament were contested on a dual pattern with the PBA’s shortest and second-longest oiling patterns applied to opposing lanes: the 45-foot PBA Dragon pattern on the left lane and the 32-foot Wolf on the right. Neither bothered Rash, who adjusted to the different conditions nicely.
“A couple of times on that right lane, I said things to myself that I couldn’t repeat on television,” Rash said, “but I was able to execute and carry the strikes. You can’t worry about the ball going in the gutter. You live and die with it. Trust the process and let things happen. I’m going to keep living on the edge.
As for Ciminelli he struck three times on the left lane and four times on the right.
After opening with a double, the 33-year-old Ciminelli converted a 9-pin and the 8-10 split. He also converted a 3-9 spare in the seventh frame but Rash left no openings even though Ciminelli bowled a clean game.
Rash has been somewhat of a nemesis to Ciminelli in his PBA career. He defeated the former Cheektowaga resident in the final of the Tournament of Champions in 2012 and bowled a 300 against him in the 2015 T of C in a stepladder match.
Rash, the No. 5 seed, defeated Patrick “Packy” Hanrahan, a Connecticut native bowling out of Wichita, Kan., 226-202, in the first stepladder match. Then Rash defeated Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, like Hanrahan a two-hand style left-hander, 235-220 before routing No. 2 qualifier Brad Miller of Lee’s Summit, Mo., 279-189.