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Stottlemyer takes two out of three vs. Spohr to claim MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championship

Brett Stottlemyer

The last time Brett Stottlemyer won On the Hill Production’s MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships in 2020, he came from the loss-side, faced a teenager, Dylan Spohr, in the semifinals and went on to double dip Oklahoma’s Joe Tomkowski in the finals. Two years later, this past weekend (April 9-10), Stottlemyer and now, an officially adult (21) Spohr faced each other three times; once in a winner’s side semifinal and twice in a double elimination final. Stottlemyer sent Spohr to the loss side in the first, Spohr took the second and Stottlemyer claimed the 2022 MD State Bar Table 9-Ball title with a victory in the third. The $2,500-added event drew 75 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

After being awarded an opening round bye, Stottlemyer’s path went through Todd Michael,  before he faced and defeated the ‘favorite’ in the race, Shaun Wilkie in a double hill fight. He followed with wins over Deomark Alpajera and Glen Loveland to draw Spohr in their winners’ side semifinal matchup.

Meanwhile, Rick Miller, looking for his first recorded win since he came back from a loss, battling for the hot seat, to meet and defeat Andrew Cleary in the finals at a stop on the former Predator Pro Am Tour four years ago, worked his way through four opponents, two of which (Ricardo Diaz and Russ Redhead) gave him a double hill run for his money, two others who came within a game of double hill (Rick Molineiro and Scott Haas; 7-5) and Norman Wagner, his first opponent, who chalked up four against him. Miller faced Bobby Pacheco in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

In their first of three, Stottlemyer downed Spohr 7-4 and by the same score, Miller sent Pacheco to the loss side. Stottlemyer claimed the hot seat over Miller 7-3 and waited on Spohr’s return.

On the loss side, Spohr picked up Jimmy Rivera, who, after losing to Pacheco 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal had eliminated Paul Oh 7-4 and Scott Haas 7-3. Pacheco drew Wilkie, who’d followed his double-hill loss to Stottlemyer with six straight on the loss side, including recent wins over Moe Mozannar 7-1 and Molineiro 7-2. 

Wilkie and Pacheco locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wilkie to the quarterfinals, as Spohr downed Rivera 7-4 to join him. Wilkie’s loss-side run came to end at seven matches in those quarterfinals, with Spohr advancing 7-2 to meet and defeat Miller in the semifinals 7-4.

Momentum went to work for Spohr in the opening set of the finals. Coming off his three loss-side wins, Spohr rolled into that opening set and gave up only three racks. The second set was a much tighter race until the very end. Tied at 3-3, Stottlemyer won two straight before Spohr came back to take the 9th rack, giving him a chance to break and tie it up again at 5-5. 

Things went pretty smoothly in that 10th rack, with Stottlemyer up 5-4, and with four balls left, it looked like Spohr would, indeed, be tying things up. He lined up to shoot the 6-ball into a corner pocket; a pretty straight-forward shot, running it straight up, about three inches off the rail, with enough of an angle to give him good position on the 7-ball. As the 6-ball moved in the right direction, it looked pretty good. Until it didn’t. It caught an edge of the pocket and rattled in the doorway before deciding to stay outside.

Spohr collapsed forward on the table. He knew he hadn’t just missed a shot. With Brett Stottlemyer stepping to the table, Spohr was fairly certain that he’d just missed his chance at winning the title. He was right. It wasn’t precisely over at that point. Stottlemyer did finish the 10th rack to move out in front 6-4 and Spohr got to break and did win the 11th rack to pull back within one at 6-5. But on the hill, Stottlemyer broke, dropping three balls, and then, ran out to claim the title.

On the Hill Productions’ Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Bull Carbon, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts, OB Cues and MB Cues.

On the Hill Productions will be back at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard at the end of the month, when they bring event #4 in the Bar Box Bonanza Series, a FargoRate 8-Ball tournament (April 30-May 1).

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Wolford goes undefeated to claim MD State Bar Table 9-Ball title

Loye Bolyard, Rick Molineiro, Matt Krah, Shane Wolford and Rick Scarlato, Jr.

Shane Wolford is hard at work making a name for himself. After a few years as a junior competitor, he has stepped up in the ranks with a series of notable event victories and competitive performances. Starting about four years ago, as a teenager, when he first started showing up on the payout lists of the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour, Wolford has gone on to compete in the Derby City Classic, the Action Pool Tour, and a number of Maryland state championship tournaments. 

Wolford has been a winner on the Q City 9-Ball Tour on a couple of occasions, and last year, teamed up with another ‘young gun,’ Nathan Childress, to win the Maryland State Scotch Doubles 9-Ball Championship. In November, he and Childress signed on for the Maryland State 8-Ball Championship and though Childress got sent to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Mike Davis, Wolford eventually met and defeated Davis in a winners’ side semifinal, after which he defeated Matt Clatterbuck to claim the hot seat. Davis came back to down him in the finals of that event, but in the brief time he’s been around, Wolford has rung a few pool-community bells that at this stage of his career, are not likely to be unheard.

Well, ring-a-ding-ding, Wolford signed on to the 2021 Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships this past weekend (April 10-11) and went undefeated through the field of 118 competitors to claim that title. The event was hosted by On the Hill Productions and Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

By luck of the draw, Wolford had the opportunity to chalk up a few victories before he moved into the ‘meat’ of the field that included the likes of Shaun Wilkie, Brandon Shuff, Steve Fleming, Jason Trigo, BJ Ussery, Pooky Rasmeloungon (who hasn’t been heard of, officially, since he finished 4th at a stop on the Action Pool Tour, seven years ago), Matt Krah and last year’s MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Champion, Brett Stottlemeyer.

Wolford opened up by shutting out Joshua Oesterboro, then defeated Karl Friedenberg, Shane Clayton and Joseph Wright, before running into BJ Ussery and defeating him 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal. This set Wolford up against Pooky in a winners’ side semifinal; Pooky had just sent Shaun Wilkie west 7-4 in one of the other winners’ side quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Rick Molineiro and Matt Krah met in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Molineiro sent Krah to the loss side 7-5. Wolford joined him in the battle for the hot seat after defeating Pooky 7-5. Wolford then claimed the hot seat, downing Molineiro 7-3.

On the loss side, Krah picked up BJ Ussery, who followed his loss against Wolford by shutting out Josh McCauley and eliminating Shaun Wilkie 7-2. Pooky drew Rob Cord, who’d been sent to the loss side by Krah in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Brandon Shuff 7-3 and Ron Frank, Jr. 7-1.

Krah and Pooky advanced to the quarterfinals, chalking up identical 7-4 wins over Ussery and Cord, respectively. The two veteran pros, each of whom has been around pool longer than the man in the hot seat had been alive, locked up in a double hill fight in those quarterfinals. Krah hung on to win it and face Molineiro in the semifinals.

According to our records, Krah hadn’t been in the finals of an event since 2015, when he was involved in five of them; that year’s VA 10-Ball Championship (won by Shaun Wilkie), three stops on the Mezz Tour (one of which he won by virtue of being in the hot seat when a final match was not held) and a Labor Day 9-Ball shootout in Maryland (also won by Shaun Wilkie).

History is not something generally brought to the tables in a pool match. By player inclination, the job at hand is playing the game in front of you, whether your opponent is a veteran of the game or a barely-out-of-teen-years junior player. The junior player prevailed in Maryland this time out. Wolford completed his undefeated run with a 7-3 win that earned him Maryland State’s Bar Table 9-Ball Championship.

Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region and Safe Harbor Retirement Planners. The event was streamed throughout the weekend by Bolyard and Scarlato’s On the Hill Productions.

Shuff double dips Ussery in finals of MD State Bar Table 10-Ball Championships

Loye Bolyard, BJ Ussery, Brandon Shuff and Rick Scarlato

Brandon Shuff was runner-up to Grai Rasmechai, known as Pooky, in the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. Pooky had sent him to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal and Shuff had to win three on the loss side to get back to the finals. Shuff took the opening set of a true double elimination final, only to have Pooky come back and win the second set to claim the event title. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, this year’s MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships were, to a point, as Yogi once said (of Mantle and Maris hitting back-to-back home runs in a game), “like déjà vu all over again.” For the second year in a row, Shuff found himself at work on the loss side of the bracket in this annual event to earn a shot in the finals. This time, though, he got to the loss side earlier for a nine-game winning streak and eventually won both sets of a true double elimination final to claim the 2020 title. The event, held under the auspices of On the Hill Productions, drew 81 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Shuff was awarded an opening round bye before winning his first opening match against Louis Wehage 7-1. In his second round match, Shuff was sent to the loss side 7-5 by the opponent that he’d defeated in the quarterfinals last year, Dylan Spohr. Spohr followed Shuff over when he was defeated by Nathan Childress in the next round, 7-5. Childress, a former two-time BEF junior champion (’15 & ’16; 14 & under), had (after a bye) chalked up an opening round shutout over Dylan Carr, before defeating, in order, Brett Stottlemeyer 7-4, Spohr, and Johnny Archer 7-5, to draw Rick Molineiro in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

In the meantime, BJ Ussery, who’s recently been popping up and winning all over the US landscape (most recently, Nov. 19-22, as runner-up to Jeffrey DeLuna in the 9-ball division of the 1st Annual Meucci Classic in Florida) was working his way to the hot seat. He’d opened with a shutout over Josh Harget and followed with victories over Jordee Palmieri 7-4, Joshua McCauley 7-2, Joseph Tomkowski 7-5 and Tom Zippler 7-5, to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal, versus Redgie Cutler.

Ussery got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Cutler. Molineiro joined him after sending Childress over 7-3. Ussery claimed the hot seat 7-2 and waited for the fateful return of Shuff.

Over on the loss side, Shuff was not being handed any sort of a free ticket back to the finals. Though he started with a 7-1 victory over Jimmy Bird and a 7-2 win over Stottlemeyer, Shuff’s next few opponents started adding more and more beads to their side of the wire. He downed Joseph Tomkowski 7-3, Kevin West 7-5, Clint Clayton 7-5 and downed Mike Saleh 7-3 (Saleh had just eliminated Johnny Archer in a double hill battle). It was Cutler who picked him up, those six wins into his loss-side winning streak. Shaun Wilkie, who’d won three matches on the winners’ side before Cutler had sent him to the loss side 7-2, got right back on the ‘horse,’ to down Shane Wolford (partner with Nathan Childress in winning the October MD State Scotch Doubles 9-Ball Championship) and Tony Long, both 7-5, to draw Childress.

Shuff chalked up loss-side win #7 against Cutler 7-4. Though there was a high degree of anticipation in place for the Wilkie/Childress match, based primarily on the young man’s winners’ side victories in this event and recent success in other On the Hill Productions’ tournaments, the hoped-for ‘nail biter’ didn’t happen. Wilkie shut the young man out and advanced to face Shuff in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals, too, were a highly anticipated match between two of the mid-Atlantic’s powerhouse players. And that match, to a certain extent, lived up to its billing. Shuff and Wilkie came within a game of double hill, but in the end, Shuff edged out in front to win it by two, 7-5.

Shuff took his final step toward a place in the finals with a similar 7-5 win over Molineiro in the semifinals.

It was getting late and there was little doubt that the two players in the finals – Shuff and BJ Ussery – were already tired. Though true, it is assuredly not an excuse that any player uses to validate poor play, or losing a match. Ussery lost the opening set of the final 7-2, and though he put up a fight in the second set, Shuff won the double hill second set to claim the title.

“Brandon’s a great player,” acknowledged Ussery. “I knew going in that he was the kind of player who maybe was only going to make one mistake, and not a big mistake at that.”

“He played absolutely perfectly,” he added. “He kicked the 10-ball in twice.”

On the Hill Productions, in the persons of Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard for their hospitality, as well as sponsors the Chesapeake Bay TAP League, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth.

Wilkie goes undefeated to capture his third Maryland State title in eight years

Shaun Wilkie

Shaun Wilkie has chalked up his fair share of tournament victories over the years, dating back to our first recorded awareness of his presence 20 years ago, when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in Pikesville, MD. His first recorded victory in an event came two years later on that same tour. Since that time, he’s gone on to win events on the Action Pool Tour (APT; lots of them), the Blaze Tour, the Mezz Pro Am Tour, the Predator Pro Am Tour, the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and various State of Virginia championships. With two exceptions, however, he’s had a difficult time securing a victory at a tournament with “Maryland” in its official title. He came close four times last year, finishing as runner-up in the MD State 10-Ball, 9-Ball Bar Table, and 9-Ball Championships and third in the MD State 8-Ball Championships. The two exceptions in this ‘drought’ was a victory in the Maryland State 8-Ball, two years ago and a victory in the Maryland Open, eight years ago.
 
Wilkie ended his extended Maryland State drought with a victory at the 2020 Mezz Cues Maryland State Bar Table 8-Ball Championships on the weekend of February 8-9. He went undefeated through the field of 105 entrants, at the event, hosted by Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
 
Wilkie and long-time opponent Rick Molineiro battled twice for this title. Molineiro’s career, while not as illustrious or as successful as Wilkie’s, began, in our records, with a 5th place finish on the Planet Pool Tour in 2001. Like Wilkie, Molineiro’s a regular competitor on the Action  Pool Tour and also like Wilkie, has found limited success in Maryland, although he did finish third at this event last year.
 
They met first in the hot seat, once Wilkie had disposed of his winners’ side semifinal opponent, Tom D’Alfonso 6-2 and Molineiro had defeated another APT veteran, Steve Fleming, 6-4 in the other one. In their first of two, they battle to double hill before Wilkie prevailed to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Fleming ran right into Kristina Tkach, the young Russian woman, who’s a strong competitor in the ‘stable’ of Roy’s Basement. Tkach had lost her third-round match to Wilkie and was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She had recently eliminated Del Sim, double hill, and Roger Haldar 6-4 to draw Fleming. D’Alfonso drew Eddie Abraham, who’d recently defeated Tom Zippler and Shane Wolford, both 6-4.
 
Tkach eliminated the Action Pool Tour’s 2018 Tour Champion and last year’s runner-up, Steve Fleming 6-1. She was joined in the quarterfinals by Abraham, who’d defeated D’Alfonso 6-3. In a double hill quarterfinal, Tkach prevailed and advanced to meet Molineiro in the semifinals.
 
Molineiro was arguably playing ‘above his weight’ in the semifinals; up against an opponent with four event victories last year alone, to include a win on the APT, downing Chris Bruner, the tour’s #1 competitor at the time, in the hot seat and finals. Had Chris not won the semifinals, Tkach would have faced Wilkie in the finals of that event. Molineiro pulled it off, though, downing Tkach in this event’s semifinals 6-4 to earn himself a second shot at Wilkie in the hot seat.
 
Momentum may have been on Molineiro’s side, but Wilkie wasn’t interested. He took command of the only set that proved necessary, downing Molineiro 6-2 to complete his first Maryland State title run in two years.
 
Event directors at On the Hill Productions, Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Blvd., as well as title sponsor Mezz Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay Region), Billiard Sports Network for their stream of the event throughout the weekend, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, and Turtle Racks. On the Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. for their next scheduled event, the MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships, to be held on the weekend of April 4-5.

Rasmechai takes two out of three over Shuff to win MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championship

(l to r): Brandon Shuff & Grai (Pooky) Rasmechai

In most double elimination pool tournaments, the winner usually ends up taking down the runner-up, twice; again, usually in the hot seat match and finals. It’s what happened at the 2018 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, when Johann Chua defeated Jesus Atencio twice to claim the title. This year, on the weekend of November 30-December 1, a veteran of the mid-Atlantic pool scene returned to the tables after something of a protracted absence and a few appearances on the Action Pool Tour over the past few years. Formerly known as Pooky Rasmeloungon, he has returned to the scene as Grai Rasmechai, maintaining the "Pooky" as a nickname. Pooky had to defeat an opponent, Brandon Shuff, twice this past weekend, but had to face him three times to claim the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. They and a number of competitors in this event have been familiar opponents over the years on (among other tours/events) the Falcon Cue 9-Ball Tour. To get a sense of just how familiar the winner and runner-up in this event have been as been as opponents over the years, it should be noted that they tied for 5th place in the Pennsylvania State 9-Ball Championships, 15 years ago. The $2,000-added event this past weekend drew 103 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
 
Rasmechai got by Heath Willard, Joey Scarlato, James Aranas, Clint Clayton and Brandon Sluzalis to face Shuff for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Shuff had defeated Joe Chester, Rick Miller, Alvin Thomas, Shane Wolford, and Shaun Wilkie to reach Rasmechai. In the meantime, Dylan Spohr and Chuck Sampson squared off in the other one. By identical 7-5 scores, Sampson and Rasmechai sent Spohr and Shuff to the loss side. Rasmechai followed his victory over Shuff with a 7-3 victory over Sampson to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Shuff picked up Thomas Haas, who’d defeated Rick Molineiro 7-1 and survived a double hill fight against Rob Cord to reach him. Spohr drew Shaun Wilkie, who, following his defeat at the hands of Shuff in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Scott Haas 7-2 and Bob Pacheco 7-5.
 
Anyone familiar with the mid-Atlantic region pool scene who happened to be in attendance or possibly watching the live stream of the event (courtesy of Billiard Sports Network) could see a potential rematch between Shuff and Wilkie looming. Shuff did his part, downing Haas 7-4. Spohr, though, spoiled the reunion by defeating Wilkie 7-1.
 
Shuff defeated Spohr 7-2 in those quarterfinals and then found himself locked up in a double hill fight versus Sampson in the semifinals. Shuff eventually prevailed to earn himself a spot in the finals.
 
Shuff walked into a second straight double hill fight in the opening set of the true double elimination final and won it to force a second set. Rasmechai got out in front in the second set, winning it eventually 7-4 to claim his first event title since (according to our records) he won the opening stop of the Seminole Tour's 2005 season.
 
On The Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues in Glen Burnie on the weekend of February 8-9 for the Maryland State 8-Ball Bar Table Championships.
 
Event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked Anthony and Stefanie Manning and their Brews & Cues staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League-Chesapeake Bay Region, Billiards Sports Network, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls and Simonis Cloth.

Sluzalis goes back-to-back in MD State Bar Table Championships

(l to r): Tom Zippler & Brandon Sluzalis

While the 2019 Maryland State 8-Ball Bar Table Championships didn’t get quite the ‘name draw’ of its predecessor, the 2019 Maryland State 9-Ball Bar Table Championships, the two did share a winner. Back in March at Brews & Cues in Glen Burnie, MD, Brandon Sluzalis went undefeated through a field of 104 to claim the first MD State 9-Ball Bar Table title. On the weekend of July 27-28, at the same location, Sluzalis got into the hot seat of the 8-Ball Bar Table Championships, and in the end, won it, though not before he was challenged and defeated once, by Tom Zippler, who’d won five on the loss side to reach him for a true double elimination final. The event drew 100 entrants to Brews & Cues.
 
Sluzalis, who’d faced and defeated the likes of James Aranas, Shaun Wilkie and Brett Stottlemeyer in the March 9-Ball event, did not run into them playing 8-ball in Glen Burnie. Stottlemeyer and Wilkie did compete, just not against Sluzalis. It took him five matches to get into the hot seat, downing Rusty Hamilton 6-1, and Tony Conn 6-4, before picking up a forfeit win over Marko Stanley. He advanced to defeat Dwayne Laub 6-3 and picked up Gary Kline as an opponent in a winners’ side semifinal.
 
Zippler, in the meantime, had defeated Lance Fessler 6-1, Mark Ford 6-4 and Derick Daya 6-1 before being sent to the loss side by Rick Molineiro 6-3. Molineiro advanced and drew Steve Fleming in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
By identical 6-1 scores, Sluzalis and Molineiro sent Kline and Fleming to the loss side, and squared off against each other in the hot seat match. Sluzalis sent Molineiro to the semifinals 6-2 and waited for Zippler to finish his loss-side run.
 
On the loss side, Kline drew Zippler, who’d defeated Brian Dietzenbach and Rick Winpigler, both 6-4, to reach him. Fleming picked up co-event director Rick Scarlato, Jr., who’d defeated his fellow event director Loye Bolyard 6-4 and Matt Haines, double hill.
 
A pair of 6-2 victories sent Fleming and Zippler to the quarterfinals, eliminating Scarlato and Kline. A third 6-2 win sent Zippler to the semifinals and a rematch against Molineiro, who’d added a few matches to Zippler’s weekend.
 
Zippler exacted his revenge on Molineiro 6-4 and turned to face Sluzalis in a true double elimination final.  A single race to 10 would have yielded the same result as the two races to 6 did. Zippler, on the wings of that intangible ‘momentum’ took the opening set 6-4. Sluzalis came back in the second set to win it and the 8-ball Championship 6-3. The hypothetical ‘race to 10’ would have gone double hill with Sluzalis winning it 10-9.
 
Event directors Rick Scarlato, Jr., and Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Billiard Sports Network, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, Phillippi Custom Cues and TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Region). 

Brandon Sluzalis sweeps the field at the first Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championship

It was another successful weekend of pool for “On The Hill” Productions. Tour owners Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard decided to have the first event of 2019 at Brews & Cues on The Blvd in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Due to minor size constraints the field was decreased from 128 players to 104, but that did not prevent the world-class players from showing up to steal the show.
 
The event consisted of such top-flight players as James Aranas (PHI), Kristina Tkach (RUS), Del Sim (SCO) and local champions Shaun Wilkie and Brett Stottlemyer to name a few. Little did they know that Brandon Sluzalis, a top-regional player from Bethlehem, PA would be waiting for them. There was also a generous helping of young talent, which is always encouraging for the future of the game. Hailing from Lancaster, PA and Hazleton PA respectively, seventeen-year-old Thomas Haas has been lighting up the tables in almost every event. Eighteen-year-old Dylan Spohr has proven to be a constant threat. Coen Bell from Cambridge, MD is only fourteen, but his game has been improving steadily for the past two years. Not to be outdone, Skylar Hess has been making her opponents nervous at the ripe old age of ten!
 
As with any major event, there was no shortage of surprises. Russian sensation Kristina Tkach finished out of the top 24 places. Delaware champion Kevin West only won his first match before falling first to Shaun Wilkie and then Derick Daya. The usually reliable Tim Tanana went 0-2, which was very unusual for him, and tour director Rick Scarlato Jr. had a surprising finish out of the money. Other top players who did not cash were Rick Molineiro, Scott Haas, John Moody Sr. and Matt Krah. Young Travis Manning, for whom pool is his second passion (bowling is his first) surprised everyone by finishing in the top 24! Travis held his composure and shot well all weekend. Despite having to face the world-class talent of James Aranas (PHI) in the first round (on the Stream Table no less!), Travis bore down and mowed through the field to get in the money.
 
The story of the day, however, belonged to Brandon Sluzalis. A well-known tour grinder, Brandon smoothly played his way into the Hot Seat, defeating Shaun Wilkie, Brett Stottlemyer and James Aranas on the way. The first-round bye had no effect on his demeanor or his momentum, and he calmly dismantled everyone who crossed his path. It was as though he knew the championship was his from the start, and everyone else was simply in his way.
 
Congratulations to all who finished in the top 24 places this weekend. The Maryland State Events have been consistently providing extremely tough competition for modest entry fees with excellent payouts.
 
Many thanks to Anthony Manning and the staff at Brews & Cues for outstanding accommodations, which included the installation of an extra table for the live stream. Thanks as well to the owners of Billiard Sports Network, Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield for the free high-quality streaming all weekend, with commentary.
 
This event would not have been possible without the work and contributions of the following sponsors:
McDermott Cues
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
Tour owners Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard, along with Theresa Scarlato and Beverlee Longstreet-Dillow, worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth, efficient event, with little to no hiccups. The Maryland State Events have cemented their place on the East Coast as one of the premier events to enjoy.

Mike Davis wins Maryland 8-Ball Championship

Mike Davis has been on a roll recently. Adding to his victory in last weekend’s Planet Pool 9-ball event, Mike became the 2012 Maryland Open 8-Ball champion.

Forty players came out to Big Daddy’s Billiards in Glen Burnie, Maryland to contest the Maryland Open 8-Ball Championship. The event was played in double elimination format with races to five on the winner’s side and four on the one-loss side. The alternate break format was in effect. The tables were 9 foot Diamond and Brunswick Gold Crowns. Matches began shortly after 11 a.m. and wrapped up by about 10 p.m.

Early action saw Mike Davis and Brandon Shuff, two of the favorites in the player auction, draw each other in the first round. Mike jumped out to a 4-1 lead to reach the hill first. Brandon came back with 3 straight racks to bring the match to hill-hill. Brandon broke dry in the final game and Mike ran out for the win. Also of note in early play was 68-year-old Roger Riley‘s 5-2 win over Shaun Wilkie. Although it was unknown at that time, Roger was just starting his run to the finals.

Roger Riley continued to move through the field as the tournament approached mid-afternoon. His matches included a win over another player auction favorite, Brett Stottlemeyer. Alan Duty was also playing strongly. In his winner’s side match with Mike Davis, Alan reached the hill first at 4-3 before Mike took the next 2 racks for the win. Alan rebounded from this by moving past Matt Krah 4-1 and Shaun Wilkie 4-3.

The later part of the day produced a number of close and well-played matches. Roger Riley continued his streak with a 5-3 win over Mike Davis. This put Roger in the hot seat. Alan Duty faced off against Brett Stottlemeyer in a match where neither player missed a single ball. With the alternate break format, both players took turns breaking and running each rack. Brett came out on top 4-3 due to having won the lag and having the first break. After his opening round loss to Mike Davis, Brandon Shuff had gone undefeated all day on the one-loss side. He continued this by running out the last rack in a hill-hill win over Brett Stottlemeyer. 

The semi-final match was Mike Davis versus Brandon Shuff to determine who would face Roger Riley in the finals. This was a battle of power breaks and run outs. Mike broke dry to open the match and Brandon ran the rack. Brandon broke in game 2 and another ball kicked the cue ball in the side pocket. Mike got ball in hand behind the line and ran that rack to even the score at 1 all. Mike then broke and ran out to 2-1. Brandon broke and ran out to bring it back to 2-2. Mike broke and ran out to 3-2. Brandon then came up dry on the break and Mike ran out for the win and the right to face Roger in the finals.

The finals were played between Mike Davis and Roger Riley using double elimination format. Since Mike was coming from the one-loss side, he had to defeat Roger twice – first race to 6 and second to 4, if needed. Roger noted beforehand that he was “pretty much out of gas” by this point in a long day. However, Mike was still on form and made his way convincingly through both sets to become the 2012 Maryland Open 8-Ball champion. 

Many thanks to Big Daddy’s staff (owners Cindy and Rick Molineiro, tournament director Debbie, Bob, and Crystal) and to all of the players for making the event a success.

Deska wins double hill duel on Action Pool Tour

Brian Deska won two double hill matches on his way to a victory in the January 14-15 stop on the Action Pool Tour. Both were against Paul Helms, who won four straight double hill matches on the loss-side to get back to the finals against Deska. The event, which drew 81 entrants, was hosted by VIP Billiards in Catonsville, MD.

They met first and chalked up their first double hill battle among the winners’ side final four. Deska sent Helms west and moved on to the hot seat match against Abdulla Mohammed, who’d just defeated Dave Beegle 9-3. Deska moved into the hot seat with 9-5 victory over Mohammed and awaited Helms’ return.

Over on the loss-side, Helms picked up Alan Duty, who’d gotten by tour director Ozzy Reynolds and Rick Molineiro, both 7-5. Beegle drew the tour’s # 1 ranked player, Brandon Shuff, who’d been sent west by Deska from among the winners’ side final eight, and defeated Donny Perriman 7-2, and Eric Heiland 7-1.  Helms chalked up his first of four straight double hill wins with a victory over Duty, as Beegle was busy downing Shuff 7-4. Helms then ended Beegle’s day 7-6 in the quarterfinals and went on to defeat Mohammed in the semifinals by the same score.

With five straight double hill battles behind him, Helms got his second crack at Deska. In the opening set of what would have been a true double elimination final, Helms took Deska to the brink a second time, and for the second time, Deska prevailed, to capture the event title.