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Pinegar wins 2019 SBE Pro Am Bar Box Championship

Jonathan Pinegar (Photo courtesy Super Billiards Expo)

Davis tops largest SBE field of 1,024 to win Amateur Open
 
In its multi-discipline, varied-skill format that, with some overlap among 11 events, drew over 3,000 pool players to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, PA over the weekend of March 28-31, the Super Billiard Expo’s Pro Am Bar Box Championships has always existed as something of a challenge. In 2018, they used the challenge in promoting the event, asking potential participants a simple question – How good do you really think you are?
 
Open to all levels of competitors, without restriction, its field is capped at 32 players, who play a ‘best of three set’ format with races to 6 in each set (all other Amateur events utilized the same format, although with races to 5 in each set). While encouraging and expecting a wide variety of players from the amateur to the pro, this year’s ProAm Bar Box Championships featured a field that was tipped somewhat toward the amateur end of things. Not completely, because it was won by 20-year veteran Jonathan Pinegar, who’s been winning and cashing in amateur and semi-pro events for nearly 20 years. Known throughout most of his career as “Hennessee from Tennessee,” Pinegar has, in recent years, been signing on to events with his given name. At this year’s SBE, he signed in as John Pinegar. This year’s runner-up was Demetrius Jelatis.
 
The posted brackets on the SBE Web site for all of the amateur events (including the ProAm Bar Box) do not indicate the scores of the individual sets, which masks the give and take of game-by-game scoring. Instead, each player is seen to have won their individual matches by only one of two possible outcomes; 2-0 or 2-1. There is no way of knowing, therefore, a given player’s game-winning percentage, only his or her set-winning percentage.
 
Pinegar won 10 of 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with a 2-1 win over Alex Olinger, went 2-0 against Kevin West and allowed Scott Haas a single set in the third round, which brought him to a semifinal matchup against Justin Espinosa. Jelatis, in the meantime, won eight of the 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with two straight 2-0 set victories over Shane Clayton and Alan Rolan, before giving up a set to Ryan McCreesh. This set him (Jelatis) up against Jorge Rodriguez in the other semifinal. Rodriguez is another one of those competitors who’s been competing at the semi-pro and pro-level for years.
 
Pinegar got into the finals with a 2-0 set victory over Espinosa. Jelatis joined him after a 2-1 set victory over Rodriguez. Pinegar completed his undefeated (in sets) run with a 2-0 victory over Jelatis.
 
Davis goes undefeated in his individual bracket, advances to win Amateur Open
 
In the largest field of the SBE, the Amateur Open, 1,024 entrants initially split up into 16 brackets of 64 players each. Each of those brackets delivered a single player to a Final 16 bracket. Phil Davis didn’t lose a single set (best of three sets in races to 5) in his initial bracket, going 2-0 against Chris Garrett, Matt Clatterbuck, Mark Alicea, Paul Swinson, Richard Anderson and in his bracket’s finals, Jason Balas. He gave up his first set in the opening round of the single-elimination final 16 bracket, going 2-1 against Joe Wright. He went back to his 2-0 pattern against Mark Nanashee in the second round, which moved him into the semifinals against Julio Burgos.
 
Raed Shabib, in the meantime, gave up his first set, in the opening round of his 64-player bracket, to Christopher Balderson. He didn’t give up another one until his bracket finals, having gone 2-0 against Abel Rosario, John Hoge, Bill Mason and Randy Tate. He took the bracket final 2-1 over James Adams. He opened the Final 16 portion of his run with a 2-1 victory over George Crawford and then downed Brett Stottlemeyer 2-0, to arrive at a semifinal against Chris Bruner.
 
Davis and Shabib advanced to the finals with identical 2-1 set victories over Burgos and Bruner, respectively. Davis completed his undefeated run with a 2-1 victory over Shabib in the finals.
 
Amateur highlights
 
The next highest attended Amateur tournament was the Open Seniors event (for 50+), which drew 384 entrants. Originally split into eight preliminary brackets, yielding a single winner, the event was won by Bobby Connor. He advanced through the Final 8 field with set wins over Oscar Bonilla and Dennis Spears, both 2-1. He was met in the finals by Efrain Morales, who’d defeated Joe Armeni 2-1 and Chuck Ross 2-0. Connor didn’t give up a set in claiming the Open Seniors title.
 
Next up, with 192 entrants, was the Super Seniors (65+), who started in four initial brackets, yielding a very short final field of four. Ed Matushoneck downed Tom Acciavatti 2-1 to claim his spot in the finals, and was joined by Ronny Park, who’d defeated Nelson Rivera 2-1. Matushoneck claimed the Super Seniors title with a 2-0 win over Park.
 
The Amateur Ladies drew 188, just four less than the Super Seniors. Combined, those two events would have yielded an enormously entertaining field with just four less than the Open Seniors event. As it was, the 188 ladies, like the Super Seniors, started with four initial 64-player brackets (with a number of opening round byes) and ended with a final field of 4. Rachel Lang and Michelle Jiang advanced to the finals without giving up a set to either Marie-France Blanchette and Stacey Tonkin. Lang downed Jiang in the finals two sets to one.
 
In the 12 and under Juniors event, which drew 56 entrants, Parker Jakubczak downed 2018 11 & under Junior National Champion Kyle Yi in the finals 2-1. In the 17 & under category, which drew 76 entrants, two-time 14 & under National Junior Champion Nathan Childress defeated Ivo Linkin in two straight sets.

Earl Strickland Claims His Second Maryland State Bar Table Championship

Rick Scarlato Jr., Earl Strickland, RJ Carmona, Tony Long and Shaun Wilkie (Photo by Erwin Dionisio)

Maryland State events are quickly becoming the premiere event and the Maryland State 9 Ball Bar Table Championship March 17th – 18th was no exception. With another full field event of 128 players, $1000 added by McDermott cues, first place paying over $5900, and a stacked field with every big name you can possibly imagine, it’s no wonder there’s a buzz about the On the Hill Productions tournament. The home room of these tournaments, Bank Shot Bar and Grill in Laurel, MD, was brimming with green-clad players gunning for the top spot this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, everyone hoping for a bit of luck. Earl Strickland was more than lucky, winning the “pot o’ gold” and claiming his second MD State victory. 
 
Strickland was the star of the show as usual, entertaining fans between matches with endless stories and replayed layouts. He was like a Shakespearean actor with a skull in his hands, retelling dramatic matches with famous opponents, waving and illustrating the drama to captivated listeners. On the table, Earl simply dominated, going undefeated with only one opponent getting to the hill before the finals (Adam Kielar). 
 
Of crowd favorites, Earl was of course the largest, then Jason Kirkwood, a bar table champion whose reputation preceded him. The luck of the Irish was not with Kirkwood though, as he was brought down unexpectedly by Leeroy Taylor (7-6), and only won one more on the B-side before his run was ended by Eddie Abraham (7-6), leaving Kirkwood in the top 32 but out of the money. Leeroy went on to finish 9-12, surely leaving some green with envy as he wasn’t an anticipated challenger.
 
The spectators kept hope with their next favorite in line to win, Shaun Wilkie, a professional player who consistently places in the top of any field he enters. True to this expectation, Wilkie immediately downed Danny Basavich, otherwise known as Kid Delicious (7-4). Wilkie could not get past Strickland (7-4) later in the bracket, however, and went to the B-side Sunday to knock down Reymart Lim (7-5), before falling to Tony Long (7-2), taking 4th in this strong event.
 
By Sunday, only monsters remained. The green shirts had dissipated, leaving more of a quiet intensity to the play rather than festivity. Reymart finished 5th/6th after the mentioned loss to Wilkie, but not before taking down Zippler (7-5), Brett Stottlemeyer (7-3), and Pat McNally (7-5) among others. Kenny Ruttmann (Russian Kenny) went on a tear on the B-side which was ended by Paul Cogle Sunday, and Tom Zippler ended Cogle’s run a few rounds later. An exhausting tournament for those making it to this point, but all were in the money and were hungry for their shot. 
 
Speaking of exhaustion, Tony Long may have had the longest (pun intended) journey to get to his 3rd place finish but on the way he ended more runs than a pulled hamstring. Long lost 2nd round to Joe Chester (7-4) and then won an incredible 9 matches in a row. Among those Long knocked out were Greg Sabins (7-1), Chris Wilburn (7-5), Adam Kielar (7-5), Joe Wright (7-4), and Steve Fleming (7-5), before RJ Carmona put a stop to Long in a hill-hill semifinal. 
 
On the way there, Carmona RJ cleared the top of the A-side brackets, with no opponent getting to the hill until his hotseat match with Strickland. He downed Steve Fleming (7-4), Leeroy Taylor (7-5), Joey Mastermaker (7-1), Paul Oh (7-3), Stosh Sheldon (7-2), and in the first round, Kenny Ruttmann (7-5). His first matchup with Strickland did not go smoothly though. Carmona lost a quick 7-2 in the hotseat match before recovering on the B-side. 
 
The Philippine native travelled from Virginia Beach with the Greg’s Not So Pro Shop crew to put up an impressive hill-hill set in the finals against the Hall of Fame legend, even though the true double-elimination format meant that RJ would’ve also had to win a second set to claim the title. The odds were against Carmona, facing a five-time US Open and two-time world champion, but it didn’t seem to phase him.  
 
The final match got off to a funky start, with RJ scratching on the break, leaving a guaranteed 2-9 combination shot, but ball in hand on a 1-8 combo up table. In an effort to control the 1ball, Earl failed to pocket the 8-ball, and conceded the game. RJ then tacked on another game after a fluke scratch by Earl. Another scratch on the break swung things towards Strickland, who took that game and the next, making 3 balls on his break. Score 2-2, RJ broke dry, leading to a safety game and ultimately a miscue. Earl took that game and the next, taking the lead 4-2. The scratches were a large factor in this matchup at this point.
 
RJ answered next rack with a much-needed break and run, clearing the air of mistakes. He then also took advantage of a dry break by Earl, running that out. 4-4, RJ broke, made the 1-ball and got hooked getting to the 2. After a messy back and forth, RJ stroked a beautiful 7-ball to get to the 9, score 5-4 RJ. Earl then broke and ran to even things up, 5-5, then closed the next one after RJ accidentally hooked himself mid-rack.
 
Earl, now on the hill, tried to play safe off the 2-ball, but scratched. RJ seized the opportunity and ran out. Now hill-hill, RJ broke, made the one, and bumped the 2 into a difficult position against the side of the pocket behind a ball. Knowing he couldn’t afford a mistake, RJ decided to play safe by just rolling the cueball against the 2, executing beautifully. Earl somehow not only made a good hit but made the 2. From there, he ran down to the 8, where RJ threw in the towel (literally), conceding the match. 
 
Earl Strickland now owns two Maryland State titles, with Klenti Kaci and Dennis Orcullo each owning one also. Strickland, a North Carolina native who currently resides in the Philadelphia area, is revered as one of the greatest pool players to have ever played. Congratulations go out to him and RJ Carmona for their thoroughly entertaining play. 
 
On the Hill Productions would like to thank Bank Shot Bar and Grill, McDermott Cues, Simonis Cloth, Navigator Tips, Phillippi Custom Cues, Aramith Pool Balls, CBR TAP Leagues, and all the players and spectators that made this event successful. A special acknowledgement to Lights Out Billiards Apparel in addition to sponsoring, but also for donating 10% of their proceeds from this event to a fundraiser run by Greg’s Not So Pro Shop, benefitting a young child in the Philippines that needs a heart operation. 
 
To watch the streamed matches from this event and more, find Ground Zero Scott (Adict2speed) on Youtube. Also follow On the Hill on Facebook, keeping your eye out for the next event at Champions Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, the first big table event for the crew. These events fill up fast, so jump at any chance if you can! 
 

Mazon goes undefeated to take Action Pool Tour stop

Jundel Mazon, from the Philippines, who was in Round Rock, TX over the Labor Day weekend, and was eventually ousted from the 128-entrant Texas Open by Justin Bergman, traveled east on the weekend of September 12-13 to try his hand at the Action Pool Tour. He went undefeated through a field of 64 to capture his first title, since (as far as we've been able to determine) his victory at the Guinness World Series of Pool in Jakarta in 2010; a tournament that saw Darren Appleton finish third, and Shane Van Boening finish in the eight-way tie for 17th. This time out, at the event hosted by Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA, Mazon left a few familiar names in the dust; like current tour rankings leader Shaun Wilkie (who he did not actually play), and # 2  in those rankings, Brandon Shuff, who he did play, twice, including the finals.
 
After opening his run with an 8-3 victory over Kevin Bailey, Mazon faced Karen Corr, who hasn't been defeated on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour in 18 months. He defeated Corr 8-4 and went on to defeat Daniel Jarquin, and Matt Krah (# 5 on ATP rankings), which set him up for his first go-round with Shuff, who had just sent Wilkie to the loss side. Joe Wright and Dan Madden met up in the other winners' side semifinal. Mazon sent Shuff to the loss side 8-5, and in the hot seat match, met up with Madden, who'd dispatched Wright 8-4. Mazon claimed the hot seat 8-3, and waited on Shuff's return.
 
Shuff had moved over to meet Steve Fleming, who was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that included recent victories over Jordan Scanlan and Jimmy Varias, both 6-1. Wright drew Matt Krah, who, after being sent over by Mazon, had defeated Rafael Reyes 6-2, and Greg Sabins 6-3. To reach Krah, Sabins had eliminated, in order, Corr and Wilkie.
 
Krah downed Wright 6-4, while Shuff was beating up on Fleming 6-1. He did the same thing, same score, to Krah in the quarterfinals. Madden slowed Shuff down a little in the semifinals, but Shuff emerged on the winners' side of their double hill semifinal match.
 
Mazon completed his undefeated run through the field with a 10-2 win in the finals. The win still left Wilkie at the top of the APT rankings, with Shuff right on his heels. Fleming, Varias, and Krah round out the tour's current top five players. 

Wilkie comes back from semifinals to down Krah in finals of Labor Day 9-Ball Shootout

Shaun Wilkie

The last time Shaun Wilkie and Matt Krah met in the finals of an event was back in February during the VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour (APT). They had met, as well, in the hot seat match of that tournament. Wilkie shut Krah out to grab the hot seat, and survived a double hill battle in the finals to complete his sixth straight win on the APT. At the 4th Annual Labor Weekend 9-Ball Shootout in Cambridge, MD, the two clashed in the hot seat match and finals again. This time, though, Krah survived a double hill hot seat match, only to have Wilkie come back from the semifinals to defeat him in the finals. The $500-added event drew 58 entrants to Great Slates Billiard Cafe in Cambridge.
 
Wilkie ended up playing 10 more games than Krah, 83 to Krah's 73, and prior to the finals, Krah had the better winning percentage – 72.4% over Wilkie's 70.5%. When it was over, those percentages had shifted (obviously). The addition of six game losses dropped Wilkie's percentage down by two points to 68.6%, but with the addition of nine losses, Krah's dropped by about seven points, down to 65.7%. Together, they recorded a total of five shutouts in 15 matches; two by Wilkie and three by Krah.
 
Wins over Will Johnson, Coen Bell, Steve Cahal, Jr. and Joe Stem put Wilkie in a winners' side semifinal against Kevin West. Krah had defeated Rick Winpigler, Brandon Welch, John Moody, Sr. (back-to-back shutouts), and Jason Kochenour to meet up with Josh Brothers in the other winners' side semifinal. Wilkie sent West west 7-4, while Krah was sending Brothers over 7-5. The hot seat battle went double hill, eventually sending Wilkie to the semifinals.
 
Over on the loss side, Joe Wright, having been sent there by Brothers in a winners' side quarterfinal, was working his way back to a re-match in the event quarterfinals. Wright got by  , TJ Moore and Kochenour, both 7-4, and picked up West. Brothers drew Rick Winpigler, who'd defeated Joe Stem and Danny Greene, both 7-5. Wright and Brothers advanced to their re-match; Wright 7-5 over West, and Brothers in a shutout over Greene.
 
Brothers downed Wright a second time in the quarterfinals, by the same score he'd chalked up on the winners' side 7-5. By that same score, Wilkie stopped Brothers' run in the semifinals. Wilkie then claimed the event title with the single race 9-6 victory in the finals.

Shuff, from the loss side, wins 8th Annual Maryland State 9-Ball Bar Table Championship

Brandon Shuff and Danny Green

Brandon Shuff followed up two straight recent wins on the Action Pool Tour with a come-from-the-loss-side victory in the 8th Annual Maryland State 9-Ball Bar Table Championships. Though it was Danny Green advancing to the hot seat and being defeated by Shuff in the finals, the event featured two matches between the Action Pool Tour’s prime competitors, Shuff and Shaun Wilkie. The $1,000-added 9-ball, bar table event drew 82 entrants to Great Slates in Cambridge, MD.

Shuff and Wilkie had locked up in the finals of the last two Action Pool Tour (APT) events. In the first – Stop # 3 on the tour in March – Shuff had put an end to an unprecedented six-event winning streak by Wilkie, dating back to the 2014 season. A month later, Stop #4 on the APT tour, Shuff did it again.
They met for the first time in this most recent event in a winners’ side semifinal, as Green squared off against Darryl Riley. In their first of two, Shuff was on the hill at 6-1, before Wilkie battled back to tie and then win it. Green sent Riley to the loss side 7-1, and then, in the hot seat match, sent Wilkie to a second meeting versus Shuff with a double hill fight that left him in the hot seat.
On the loss side, Shuff ran into Jeff Crawford, who’d defeated John Moody 7-5 and Evan Ford 7-3 to reach him. Riley ran into another perennial favorite on the Action Pool Tour, Mike Davis, who’d gotten by Pat Carosi 7-2 and Joe Wright 7-1 (Wilkie, Davis and Shuff, respectively, are currently ranked #1, #3 and #4 on the APT). Shuff downed Crawford 7-3, and in the quarterfinal match, hooked up with Davis, who’d sent Riley packing 7-1.
Shuff downed Davis 7-1 and got a much-anticipated second shot at Wilkie in the semifinals. He took advantage. The match came within a game of being a second double hill contest, but Shuff pulled ahead, to win by two at 7-5. Shuff and Green battled to double hill in the finals, before Shuff completed his loss-side run to claim the event title.

Shuff goes undefeated on 3rd Annual Labor Day Bar Box Championship

Brandon Shuff

Brandon Shuff and Mike Davis have a bit of history, much of it unrecorded, one would suspect. They met in the finals of a stop on the Action Pool Tour in March of 2013; Davis won. In April, of that year, Davis took the hot seat away from Shuff in the VA State 8-Ball Championship. Shuff did not return from the semifinals of that event. Davis won again when they met in the finals of another APT stop in August. It hasn't always gone Davis' way. Shuff's won a few stops on the APT in which Davis finished fourth (March, 2012, and November, 2011, for example). 
 
On Labor Day weekend, Shuff took command of their long-standing rivalry and defeated Davis twice to capture the 3rd Annual Labor Day Bar Box Championships in Cambridge, MD. The $500-added event drew 41 entrants to Great Slates Billiard Cafe in Cambridge.
 
They met first in the hot seat match. Shuff had defeated Jeff Crawford 7-2, as Davis was busy sending Joe Wright to the losers' bracket 7-3. Shuff took the first of his two against Davis 7-3 and waited in the hot seat for him to return.
 
Crawford and Wright moved to the losers' bracket and got right back to work, against Steve Fleming and Kevin West. Fleming had defeated Brian Abrams and Brett Stottlemeyer, both 7-5 to meet Crawford. West had gotten by John Moody, Jr. 7-1 and Roland Freolo 7-4 to draw Wright. Crawford downed Fleming 7-3, as Wright was eliminating West 7-2.
 
Crawford took the quarterfinal match against Wright 7-3, and then, by the same score, was eliminated by Davis in the semifinals. Shuff completed his undefeated run with a 9-6 victory over Davis in the finals to claim the event title.
 
Tour Director Danny Bell thanked room owner John Moody, Sr. and his staff at Great Slates Billiard Cafe for their hospitality.

O’Donnell in Ellicott City

The Planet-Pool tour was at Centennial Billiards in Ellicott City, MD to witness Brian O'Donnell win his second event of the season. O'Donnell went undefeated but won a very close final match against Joe Wright from Baltimore 9-8. O'Donnell collected $800 for first with Wright taking $400 for second.
 
Max Eberle and George Hammerbacher filled out the top 4 spots in the open division.
 
The ladies division saw Linda Shea again defeat Sueyen Rhee in the finals for her 5th win in the 7 events she has played in. Shea collected $400 with Rhee taking $200 for second.