Strickland and Shaw advance to SweetBE 16 in Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro Player Championship

Jayson Shaw

Inaugural SBE Diamond Seniors 9-Ball Professional Players Championship gets underway.

If Earl “The Pearl” Strickland is going to meet Jayson “Eagle Eye” Shaw in the Super Billiards Expo’s Open 9-Ball Pro Player Championship, it’ll happen in the event semifinals, scheduled for tonight (Saturday) at 10:30 p.m. They’re on target to get there, but as of last night (Friday), they still had two bridges to cross. “The Pearl”s going to have to get by Alan Rolon Rosado at 1:30 today, and then, later, defeat the winner of a match between Jonathan Pinegar and Frankie Hernandez to arrive at the semifinal. If “Eagle Eye” wants to face Strickland, he’s going to have to start with a Saturday win over Martin Daigle and then, if he advances, face the winner of a Jeremy Sossei/Shane Wolford matchup to move into the semifinal against Earl.

It’s not as easy to pick the potential semifinalists advancing from the lower half of the bracket because there are any number of intriguing matchups. Splitting the lower half of the SweetBE 16 into two component parts, you could see a semifinal with Warren Kiamco squaring off against John Morra. Or maybe it’ll be Mike Davis against Kang Lee, neither of whom, as of last night, had lost a set in the single-elimination, races to five, looking to win the best-of-five sets.

There are other possibilities emerging from both ends of the bracket, which, given the caliber of players and their play to this point are far too numerous to consider. Strickland and Shaw have to be high on the ‘most anticipated’ matchup from the upper bracket, while any number of candidates from the lower half of the bracket would fit that designation.

That picture will become a little clearer as early Saturday afternoon turns into late Saturday afternoon. The picture that’s in the books already was the narrowing of the field from 32 on Friday morning to the SweetBE 16 on Friday night. There were 16 matches on Friday and 13 of them yielded advancing competitors who hadn’t given up a single set. The three matches that weren’t ‘set’ shutouts saw the losers win only a single match in the best-of-three set format. There were only seven total double-hill individual matches among the 51 matches (set shutouts included) that brought the field down to 16.

The Pearl played in one of those seven double-hill, individual (within a set) matches and his opponent, Greg Hogue, opened their first set with three straight wins. Strickland rallied to win the next two, but Hogue came right back to reach the hill in that opening set. Strickland is legendary for playing well from behind and he showed his stuff from that point on. He won two to knot the opening set at double hill and when he won it, he shut Hogue out in the second set. He gave up only two racks in the final set to advance.

Rounding out the SweetBE 16 matches, aside from the Shaw/Daigle, Sossei/Wolford, Pinegar/Hernandez and Strickland/Rosado matchups mentioned earlier, and all beginning at 1 p.m. today, John Morra will face Reyes Gomez, Mike Davis, Jr. will square off against Jose Alberto Delgado, Warren Kiamco will take on Kang Lee and Jonas Souto will meet with Sina Valizadeh.

Seniors get a late start at the inaugural SBE Senior Pro Players Championship

It seemed a little counterintuitive.

Given the way in which the format (same as the Pro Player Championship) plays out on a clock, one might have expected the older gentlemen (50+) to get their first Pro Players Championship underway a little earlier than 10 p.m. on a Friday night. Not that you’d expect the likes of Rodney Morris, Mika Immonen, Tommy Kennedy, and others among the field of 22 to be spending their Friday nights at a Senior Center playing Bingo (nor would Earl Strickland or Warren Kiamco, battling in the Open Pro event). While 50+ these days is well shy of what you might consider elderly in most circumstances and there are plenty of competitors considerably older who continue shooting pool, between the format and the clock, the 10:30 start is going to keep them all up for a while.

As of about 1:30 a.m. this morning, the Seniors were well into their second round of play, with all but three of the eight, second-round matches completed. Three of those competing in the event competed in the Open Pro Players event, as well, and one of them (Frankie Hernandez) will be facing Jonathan Pinegar in that Open event at 1 p.m. Hernandez eliminated Morris in the Senior Open at around midnight, double hill (3-2; 2-5, 5-1, 5-2, 2-5, 5-4). 

Hernandez will face Kevin Clark tomorrow at 4 p.m. in one of the quarterfinals. Mika Immonen, who defeated Scott Haas in the 2nd round, will meet Bret Huth at 1 p.m. in another quarterfinal. Dom Polo will meet the winner of the Jimmy Rivera/Andre Pelletier match. Competitors in the two other quarterfinal matches await the finish of matches between Tommy Kennedy/Rob Krull and Robert Lewis/Bryan Farah.

Streaming options for viewing matches in the Professional Arena, provided by Upstate Al and Onsite Pool, are available by going to the SBE Website at

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