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Groce chalks up his fifth title at Midwest Bar Table Classic in Indianapolis

(l to r): Brandon Thomas & Brian Groce

The hot seat match of the 37th Annual Midwest Bar Table Classic, held on the weekend of October 21-22, featured two former winners of the event; one, Brian Groce, from 14 years ago (2003) and the other, Steve Oaks, from 34 years ago (1983).
“It was the best match of the whole tournament,” said event director, John Klotz, of the double hill battle that eventually put Groce in the hot seat. “There were one or two mistakes in the first couple of games, but from there to the end, it was just beautiful pool.”
The quality of the hot seat match led to hopes for a re-match in the finals, which did not materialize. Instead, a relative upstart, Brandon Thomas, who finished fifth in the 2015 Classic, downed Oaks (who’d sent him to the loss side) in the semifinals. Groce survived a first-set loss in the double elimination finals to win the second set and capture his fifth Midwest Classic title; his previous four coming in 2003, 2002, 2001, & 1998.
Previously hosted by Brickyard Billiards in Indianapolis, the $2,000-added, 37th Annual Midwest Bar Table Classic drew a full field of 64 entrants to a new location – John Wayne’s Pub, also in Indianapolis. While a host of familiar names and faces appeared on the brackets, the two-time defending champion of the event, Billy Thorpe, was not among them. Thorpe was making plans for attendance at the US Open 9-Ball Championships and gearing up for his first-ever appearance as a member of the USA Mosconi Cup team this coming December.
Following victories over Korey Harris, Mike France, Jayme Goodwin, and Ronnie Solgot, Groce stepped into a winners’ side semifinal against Jeremy Edwards, in what would prove to be the first of two-straight double hill matches that would put Groce in the hot seat. Oaks, in the meantime, having gotten by Dathan Schmidt, Chuck Thurnall, Alan Pham and Trent Vaught, faced Brandon Thomas in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Groce chalked up his first double hill win in a row, over Edwards, as Oaks sent Thomas to the loss side 9-6. The ‘best match of the tournament’ was on. When the dust settled, Groce was in the hot seat, and Oaks was on his way to a fateful match against Thomas in the semifinals.
On the loss side, Thomas began his trek back to the finals against Clay Carmen, who’d moved into the money rounds with wins over Dave Grau, a double hill win over Brian Winters, and then, eliminated Molly Bontrager, double hill, as well. Edwards picked up Alex Olinger, who was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had included money-round victories over Louis Demarco 7-4, a double hill win over Martin Zayala, Jr. and another double hill win, over Trent Vaught.
Thomas defeated Carmen 7-2, and was joined in the quarterfinal match by Edwards, who’d eliminated Olinger 7-4. Thomas took the quarterfinal match over Edwards 7-5, and then spoiled any hopes for a Groce/Oaks re-match with a 7-5 victory over Oaks in the semifinals.
Thomas used his momentum to take the opening set of the true double elimination final against Groce 7-3. Groce, though, caught a literal second wind and defeated Thomas by the same 7-3 score in the second set to secure the title to his fifth Midwest Bar Table Classic.
Event director John Klotz thanked Chuck Thomas, owner of John Wayne’s Pub for his debut hospitality, hosting the event, as well as sponsors Accu-Rack and Diamond Billiard Tables.

Winters stops Bergman in the finals to capture 32nd Annual Midwest Bar Table 9-Ball Classic

Sitting in the hot seat, Shane Winters watched Justin Bergman complete a nine-match, loss-side winning streak to meet him in the finals of the 32nd Annual Midwest Bar Table 9-Ball Classic. While certainly no stranger to pressure situations, it likely gave Winters some pause as he squared up for the opening set of a potential two-set final. Even more so, when Bergman took that opening set. Winters hung on, though, taking the second set to claim the title. The $1,500-added event drew 64 entrants to Brickyard Billiards in Indianapolis, IN.
Bergman had been sent to the loss side in the second round of play by Alex Olinger, who advanced to a winners' side quarterfinal against Danny Smith. Smith sent him over for an eventual re-match against Bergman while he went on to face Winters in a winners' side semifinal. Brandon Thomas and Brian Groce met up in the other one. Winters advanced to the hot seat match 9-7 over Smith and was joined by Groce, who sent Thomas west 9-3. Winters claimed the hot seat 9-4 over Groce and watched, as Bergman crept closer and closer.
With four under his loss-side belt, Bergman downed Jonah Bunch 7-2 and successfully wreaked his vengeance on Olinger 7-4, to meet Thomas. Danny Smith drew Skyler Woodward, who'd been sent to the loss side by Groce, in a double hill fight, and then defeated Rick Schroeder and Clay Carmen, both 7-2. It was a much-anticipated quarterfinal matchup between Woodward and Bergman, once Woodward had eliminated Smith 7-4 and Bergman had dispatched Thomas, double hill.
Bergman chalked up his second straight double hill win in the quarterfinal match versus Woodward, and then downed Groce 7-3 in the semifinals. He took the opening set of the double elimination final 9-5, but Winters hung tough and claimed the event title with a 7-5 victory in the second set.

Murphy holds off Stone challenge to go undefeated in GSBT 9-Ball event

They’re like footsteps creeping up behind you, those matches won by loss-side opponents looking to dethrone the occupant of a given tournament’s hot seat. Shannon Murphy heard them on the weekend of February 17-19, as he sat in the hot seat, waiting for Ryan Stone to complete a five-match, loss-side winning streak that propelled him into the finals. Murphy, though, took the opening set of what would have been a true double elimination final and finished the 9-ball segment of the weekend’s activities undefeated. The $1,500-added amateur event drew 55 entrants to Michael’s Billiards in Fairfield, OH.

Murphey was the only ‘AA’ player among the winners’ side final four, that included three ‘A’ players – Frank Ruby, Mike Brown and Billy Thorpe. Murphy got into the hot seat match with a commanding 11-1 victory over Thorpe, and was joined by Brown, who’d sent Stone west among the winners’ side final eight and then downed Ruby 9-7. Murphy moved into the hot seat with an 11-5 victory over Brown and sat listening for the footsteps.

Those Ryan Stone footsteps began  on the loss-side with an 11-3 victory over D.J. Holloway and an 11-8 win over Lee Holt, which set him up to face Thorpe. Ruby drew Clay Carmen, who’d downed Joe Pierce 7-2 and James Davis, Jr. 7-7. It was Stone and Ruby advancing to the quarterfinals; Stone with an 11-8 victory over Thorpe, and Ruby advancing 9-7 over Carmen.

With three down and two to go, Stone ended Ruby’s day with an 11-4 victory in the quarterfinals to earn a re-match against Brown in the semifinals. He completed his loss-side journey with a successful rematch victory over Brown 11-7. Murphy, though, put a stop to the winning streak. He took the first of what might have been two, with an 11-7 victory that secured the 9-ball title with an undefeated effort.

Beginning on Friday night, February 17, this GSBT event opened with a 32-player, bank pool mini-tournament, with races to 2 on the winners’ side and 1 on the loss side. Timmy Heath pocketed the first place prize of $300 with a finals victory over T.J. Bach, who went home with $200 for his effort. Greg Putnam finished third ($100) and Shane Winters finished fourth ($40). The weekend also entailed an 8-ball event that drew 52 entrants (see accompanying report).

Tour directors Shannon and Marge Daulton thanked Mike Medley and his staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Andy Gilbert Custom Cues, Nick Varner Cues and Cases, Mike Davis Exterminating, Tiger Products and Delta-13 racks.

Winters takes GSBT Bar Table 8-Ball title

It was a busy Great Southern Billiard Tour weekend that didn’t finish up until nearly 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning, February 20. By that time, three winners had emerged from three separate tournaments – Timmy Heath winning a 32-entrant bank pool mini-tournament on Friday night, Shannon Murphy coming out on top in a 55-entrant 9-ball tournament (separate report) and Shane Winters (4th in the bank tournament), going undefeated in a $500-added, bar box 8-ball tournament that drew 52 entrants to Michael’s Billiards in Fairfield, OH.

There was a lot of crossover between the 8-ball and 9-ball tournaments, which lengthened the process, because in numerous instances, players found themselves waiting for opponents playing in one or the other of the tournaments. Among those who featured in both were Frank Ruby and Ryan Stone, who battled it out in the quarterfinals of the 9-ball tournament. Stone would advance to challenge, but fall to Shannon Murphey in the finals. At the 8-ball tables, Ruby and Stone both advanced to the matches deciding the tie for fifth place, with the potential of meeting again in the quarterfinals. Didn’t happen.

D.J. Holloway and Robert Frost, who finished among those tied for 9th place in the 9-ball tournament, both advanced to the winners’ side final four in the 8-ball tournament and faced each other. Winters, in the meantime, faced Jeremy Seaman. Holloway, a B player, moved into the hot seat match with a 5-2 victory over the A-rated Frost, as Winters sent Seaman west 7-2. Winters got into the hot seat with a 7-3 victory over Holloway, and awaited what turned out to be the return of Seaman.

Seaman moved over and ran into Stone, who’d gotten by Shawn Estes 7-2 and Alex Olinger 7-4. Frost picked up Ruby, who’d defeated Tim Grigsby 6-1 and Clay Carmen 6-4. The quarterfinal replay of the 9-ball event between Stone and Ruby was avoided when Seaman defeated Stone 7-4 and Frost downed Ruby 6-2. Seaman then dodged a double hill bullet with a 7-5 victory over Frost in the quarterfinals (Frost going to 6).

Seaman gave up only a single rack in the semifinal victory that set up a re-match for him against Winters. In a straight-up race to 7 in a true double elimination final, Winters took the opening set to secure the 9-ball event title.