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Acosta goes undefeated to claim final 2018 Tri-State event

(l to r): Jimmy Acosta & Mike Mele

You have to watch the ones that come from deep on the loss side. Once they’ve chalked up five or more on that side of the bracket, they’re usually pretty immune to the nerves that likely plagued them when their loss-side journey began. And by the time they get to the vicinity of the quarterfinals, they’ve been playing non-stop for hours and are likely to be in-stroke for whatever lies ahead. Playing in the last 2018 stop on the Tri-State Tour, it was Jimmy Acosta in the hot seat and Mike Mele, preparing for the semifinals who were doing the watching. It was Rick Motilal that they were watching.
In the end, though, Motilal’s eight-match, loss-side streak was ended by Mike Mele in the semifinals. Mele’s bid for the title was, in turn, stopped in the finals by Acosta, who went undefeated to claim the tour’s final 2018 event title. The $1,000-added event drew 58 entrants on Sunday, Dec. 16 to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Acosta and Mele met first in the hot seat match. Acosta’s trip went through Christian Orque, Shawn Sookhai, Ed Medina and Dave Leggat to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Marc Joseph. Mele, in the meantime, following a double hill win against Raymond Lee in a winners’ side quarterfinal, met up with Dejan Kocev.
Acosta sent Joseph to the loss side 8-4. Mele joined him in the hot seat match after sending Kocev over 7-5. Acosta took the first of their two 7-4 to claim the hot seat, and then, probably, watch Motilal’s advance.
It was Joseph who ran into Motilal on the loss side. Motilal, who’d been sent to the loss-side in the event’s second round by Juan Melendez, had most recently chalked up loss-side wins #5 & #6, downing Ray Feliciano and David Leggat, both 7-4. Kocev drew Nathaniel Raimondo, who’d eliminated Raymond Lee 7-3 and John Stiles 7-2 to reach him.
Motilal got into the quarterfinal match with a 7-4 win over Joseph. Raimondo and Kocev battled to double hill before Kocev advanced to join Motilal in the quarterfinals.
In what proved to be his last win, Motilal sent Kocev home 7-4. The semifinal match that followed was (as described by tour representatives) a “cliffhanger” that went double hill, before Mele finished it for a second shot at Acosta in the hot seat.
The final itself was a bit anti-climactic. Acosta repeated his hot seat match performance, downing Mele 7-4 a second time to claim the event title. 
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, which will be the first of 2019, is scheduled for Sunday, January 6, 2019 at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.