Masciotti breaks through to win his first regional tour event, going undefeated on Tri-State Tour

Russell Masciotti & Matt Klein

It was the second time that Russell Masciotti and Matt Klein had met in the hot seat match on the Tri-State Tour. Last year, in April at Cue Bar in Queens, NY, Masciotti, looking for his first regional tour win anywhere, sent Klein to the loss side in that event’s hot seat match. Klein returned from a semifinal victory over Shane Torres to deny Masciotti that first regional tour win.

This year, on Sunday, March 8 at a $1000-added stop that drew 38 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, things played out a little differently. The event last year was described (by me) as a “battle of the Bs,” both players at the time playing at a ‘B’ level on the tour. This year, Klein’s an ‘A’ player; second on the tour’s ‘A’ list, and was just coming off of a tour win a week ago. Masciotti is still a ‘B’ player; #15 on that list and still in the hunt for his first major win. They didn’t play in the hot seat match this year, because Klein was sent to the loss side early by Abel Barriento and had to win seven loss-side matches just to be in the finals. Masciotti stopped Klein’s run in the finals, finishing undefeated to claim the event title and his first regional tour win.

Masciotti’s path went through Basdeo Sookhai, David Grant and Julian Tierney before coming up against Thomas Schreiber in a winners’ side semifinal. In the meantime, Allison LaFleur and Ada Lio squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Masciotti got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Schreiber. LaFleur joined him after sending Lio to the loss side 6-3. Masciotti claimed his second-ever hot seat, downing LaFleur 7-5.

On the loss side, it was Schreiber who picked up Klein, four matches into his loss-side winning streak, that had recently included wins over Julian Tierney 7-5 and a double hill win over Sherwin Robinson. Lio drew Jason Goberdhan, who’d eliminated Qian Chen 6-2 and survived a double hill win over Brandonne Alli to reach him.

Klein defeated Schreiber 7-5, and in the quarterfinals, faced Goberdhan, who’d sent Lio home 6-2. Klein advanced into two straight double hill fights, winning the first 8-7 over Goberdhan in those quarterfinals and then, defeating LaFleur 9-8 in the semifinals.

And so it was, that just a month shy of a year later, Klein and Masciotti met again in the finals on the Tri-State Tour. They battled back and forth to a 5-5 tie, before Masciotti reached the hill (6) first. In the middle of what looked to be a relatively easy runout that would have extended the match for Klein, he missed his shot at the 8-ball. Masciotti stepped up and cleared the table to claim the event title and his first regional tour win.

Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Liquid Weighted Cues and Billiards Engineering. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, March 15, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.