Strickland goes undefeated to capture Predator Tour Open/Pro title

Will there ever come a day when the appearance of Earl "The Pearl" Strickland on an event roster will not drop fear into the heart of every competitor on the list? Today's 'young guns' and quite a few wily veterans will deny this, of course (the "I ain't scared o' nobody" school of thinking) and point out that the 54-year-old Strickland can and has been beaten, a lot over the years. The fact, however, remains. The most common response to his name on a sign-in sheet is "Uh, Oh!"
On the weekend of April 11-12, Strickland added a victory to that reputation of his with an undefeated run on the Predator Tour. The $500-added, Open/Pro portion of the event drew 19 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. A concurrently-run, $500-added Amateur event, won by Brooke Meyer (see separate story), drew 68 entrants.
As is usually the case, the winners' side semifinals of the Predator's Open/Pro event was a small-sample "Who's Who?" of the New York area's top competitors. Strickland squared off against Jorge Rodriguez, while Frankie Hernandez met up with Mhet Vergara. Strickland sent Rodriguez to the loss-side 7-2, while Hernandez did likewise to Vergara 7-5. Strickland claimed his gazillionth hot seat 7-2 and waited on what turned out to Vergara's return.
On the loss side, Rodriguez picked up Hunter Lombardo, fresh off victories over Tony Liang 7-2, and Ed Culhane 7-1. Vergara drew Zion Zvi, who'd defeated Raphael Dabreo 7-5 and survived a double hill fight against Alan Rolon.
It was Vergara and Rodriguez advancing to the quarterfinals; Vergara with a 7-3 victory over Zvi, Rodriguez winning a double hill battle versus Lombardo. Vergara took the quarterfinal match 7-5 and then benefited from an 'illness' forfeit by Hernandez in the semifinals.
Uh Oh!
"The Pearl" closed out his undefeated run and picked up his first victory on the 2015 Predator Tour with a 7-1 victory over Vergara in the finals.