Stottlemeyer comes from the loss-side to win 2020 MD State 9-Ball Bar Table Championship

Loye Bolyard, Brett Stottlemeyer and Rick Scarlato Jr. (Erwin Dionisio)

With recognizeable and historically successful names among the 103 who signed on to compete in the 2020 Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships this past weekend (July 25-26), you’d have expected a few ‘fireworks;’ memorable games, epic matchups, and a nail-biting finish. That happened actually, just not among the names one might have expected.

It was won by one of those recognizeable names – Brett Stottlemyer – who came from the loss side to down Oklahoma’s Joe Tomkowski, a lesser known competitor, whose last known cash prize shooting pool occurred in 2013 at a stop on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour, and only two other times before that, in 2011. It should be noted that while Stottlemyer has been a consistent competitor in the Mid-Atlantic region, he hadn’t chalked up a major victory either, since he won the VA State 10-Ball Championship in 2013. Since that time, Stottlemyer found himself in a situation where, as a grandparent, he had to care for three grandchildren. This had a way of curtailing the kind of road experiences that would normally have kept him competing on, as an example, The Action Pool Tour, or anything really outside of his home area.

“We had to go through parenting again,” he explained of his somewhat prolonged absence. “We’d already raised three and (then), we were raising three more.”

Recently, Stottlemeyer has been competing at regular tournaments, hosted by Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, in Glen Burnie, MD, which hosted this most recent MD State Bar Box 9-Ball Championships.

“In the past month and half,” he said, “I beat Shaun Wilkie in the finals of the 9-Ball tournament (at Brews & Cues) and then, I beat him in 8-Ball, too.”

This edition of the MD State Bar Box 9-Ball Championships drew 103 entrants to Brews & Cues.

Brandon Sluzalis, who won last year’s event, did not compete this year, although four other ‘Brandon’s did (Shuff, Vaughn, Rippeon and Kreider). Shaun Wilkie, who was last year’s runner-up, stepped up to the plate and got the fireworks going by shutting out his first three opponents; Shawn Heller, William Pollock and Stefanie Manning. Johnny Archer shut out two of his first four opponents (Zack Strong and Mark Ford), sandwiching-in two victories in which he gave up only five racks; 2 to Brian Jones and 3 to Clint Clayton.

By the time the winners’ side field had whittled down to eight, some of the other more recognizeable competitors had already been moved to the loss side. Brandon Shuff, for example, along with Matt Krah, Brian Dietzenbach, Paul Oh, Del Sim and a few others. By the time the winners’ side was down to four, the eventual winner, Stottlemyer, had joined them. So had Archer.

Wilkie was still alive and in his winners’ side semifinal, facing Dylan Spohr, who finished in the tie for 13th last year. Mr. Tomkowski, in the meantime, squared off against Tony Long, who’d been responsible for sending Archer to the loss side.

By identical 7-5 scores, Spohr downed Wilkie and Tomkowski defeated Long. By yet another 7-5 score (indicative, in most cases, of a ‘fireworks’ type of match), Tomkowski, competing in only his second (recorded) hot seat match, sent Spohr over and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, moving into the money rounds, many of the expected ‘fireworks’ dispensers were still in play. Joining them in the 5th money round (competing for 5th/6th), Long and Wilkie ran into a couple of them; Stottlemyer and Shuff. Stottlemyer, in his first loss-side match, had survived a double hill battle against Eric Heiland and then eliminated Paul Oh by shutting him out, which led to him drawing Long. Shuff, playing in his third loss-side match, had defeated Brandon Rippeon 7-1 and then, 7-5, eliminated Matt Krah, who had just defeated Johnny Archer, also 7-5. Shuff picked up Wilkie.

Shuff and Wilkie got into one of the aforementioned ‘epic battles’ in their mutual desire for advancement to the quarterfinals. Shuff won the double hill battle. Stottlemyer joined him after defeating Long 7-2.

Stottlemyer and Shuff would both end up winning five on the loss side. Stottlemyer’s five would put him into the finals. Shuff’s run would end in the quarterfinals in another ‘epic battle’ waged by opponents very familiar with each other. This, too, went double hill before Stottlemyer advanced to tackle Dylan Spohr in the semifinals.

That semifinal match was not nearly as ‘epic’ as the two that had preceded it. Stottlemyer shut Spohr out for his shot against Tomkowski, waiting for him in the hot seat.

It was a true double elimination final, so Stottlemyer had to defeat Tomkowski twice. It was clear from the outset that while Stottlemyer came to the match with far more experience than Tomkowski, Tomkowski wasn’t going to be lying down anytime soon.

Another epic was in the making. Stottlemyer battled and got out in front by 2 and then won the opening set 7-4. The second set was a highly entertaining mixture of good shooting, timely safeties, and in the end, an epic final shot that gave Stottlemyer the win.

“He broke dry, pushed and I gave it back to him,” said Stottlemyer of that final, double hill rack. “He ended up leaving me the 1-ball and then, when I played the 2-ball, I used the 5-ball, which ended up going further than I expected.”

“Once it was sitting there,” he added, “I got position (and dropped) the 3-ball.”

With the 3-ball gone (and the 4-ball already gone), Stottlemeyer looked along the length of a short rail to see the 5-ball nestled up, fairly tightly, against the 9-ball. With a referee watching to assure that the hit was clean, Stottlemyer caromed the cue ball off of the 5-ball. It shifted right, hit the 9-ball and put it in the hole. Stottlemyer was MD State’s 2020 Bar Table 9-Ball champion.

“It was one of the easiest caroms to play,” he said.

Event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Lucid BallSports (which introduced its new Predator Arena Lights for the tables),, Aramith Balls, Mezz Cues, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Turtle Racks, Billiard Sports Network (which live-streamed selected matches throughout the weekend) and Break Out Billiard Apparel.