Mills/Saputo win 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles

Alec Saputo, Donny Mills, Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares

The ‘bait’ with this Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles event, held under the auspices of the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour every year, is that a number of the two-player teams are representing a Florida pool room. It is something like a localized Mosconi Cup event, with multiple teams vying to bring the title to their ‘home’ rooms, literally.

“The great thing about this annual tournament,” said Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour co-director Janene Phillips, “is that when pool rooms send players, if those players win, the tournament is held at their location the following year.

“For three years in a row now,” she added, “It’s been Stroker’s (in Palm Harbor, FL).”

This year’s list of competing pool rooms included Racks (Sanford), Mikey’s Place (Plant City), Uncle Waldo’s (Daytona Beach), Grover’s Billiards (West Palm Beach), Brewlands (Tampa), Boulevard Billiards (Ocala) and Backwoods Billiards (Okeechobee). If an independent team (not representing a particular pool room) wins, the site for the following year’s event defaults to Stroker’s. The $500-added 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles Tournament drew 22 teams (44 entrants) to Stroker’s Billiards. 

The event’s defending champions – Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares – who competed independently, went undefeated in 2019, were on hand to defend their title this year and did so, right up until the event’s final two matches. They were defeated in those final two matches by the team of Donny Mills and Alec Saputo (representing Stroker’s), who were the ones who went undefeated this year to claim the event title.

There was a blend of Florida veterans and seasoned pros this year. Local player Saputo picked up the seasoned pro Donny Mills and as a result, chalked up his first title ever. Another local amateur, Ronald Machado out of Orlando picked up Predator-sponsored pro Jesus Atencio and together, playing as an independent team, they finished fourth. Stroker’s owner, Jose Del Rio teamed up with Jason Richko.

Saputo and Mills worked their way through the field, winning their first three matches to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Joey Herron and Jon Gore. The defending champs, in the meantime (Bova/Linares), were awarded an opening round bye and won their first two to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal, against Machado and Atencio. 

Bova/Linares downed Machado/Atencio 7-5 and were joined in the hot seat match by Saputo/Mills, who’d sent Herron/Gore to the loss side 7-3. In their first of two, Saputo and Mills allowed Bova and Linares only a single rack in claiming the hot seat 7-1.

On the loss side, Herron/Gore picked up the father/son team of Thomas and Trenton White, who were working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take them as far as the semifinals. They’d recently shut out Juan Lopez/Casey Grove and survived a double hill battle versus Han Berber and Dee Meadows. Machado/Atencio drew co-tour director Bobby Garza, who was teamed up with Obbie Cirilo. They were working on a five-match, loss-side winning streak which had recently eliminated room owner Jose Del Rio and Jason Richko 6-3, and the team of Marcos Bielostozky and Jerry Arvelaez, double hill.

The father/son White team downed Herron/Gore 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Machado/Atencio, who’d defeated Garza/Cirilo 6-3. The Whites advanced one more step with a 6-4 win over Machado/Atencio.

Anxious to defend their title, Bova and Linares cleared their only loss-side hurdle in the semifinals. They ended the White’s bid to hold next year’s tournament at their place – Mikey’s Place in Plant City, FL – by ending their loss-side streak at six with a 6-4 win. 

Bova/Linares put up a bit more of a fight than they had in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Saputo and Mills edged out near the end and claimed the 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles title with a 7-5 victory.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his Stroker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Group, Kamui, Diamond Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour will open its 2021 season back at Stroker’s Billiards on the weekend of February 6-7.