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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.

West foils a strong, loss-side bid by Wilkie to claim MD State 10-Ball Championships

Rick Scarlato Jr, Shaun Wilkie, Jake Lawson, Chuck Sampson, Michael Yednak, Kevin West, Loye Bolyard

The two competitors who squared off against each other in the finals of the Maryland State 10-Ball Championships on the weekend of September 28-29 are the only two who have ever won the Action Pool Tour’s annual Bob Stocks Memorial Tournament twice. That record was held by Shaun Wilkie, until in 2017 & this past April, Kevin West chalked up his two. West went undefeated in the MD State 10-Ball event, and was challenged by Wilkie, who’d been sent to the loss side in an early round by another Bob Stocks Memorial champion, Brandon Shuff. Wilkie won eight on the loss side to challenge West in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 64 entrants to Champions Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.
 
With his finals opponent toiling away on the loss side, West advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Del Sim. Chuck Sampson faced Robert Palucho in the other one. West sent Sim west 7-1 and in the hot seat match, faced Sampson, who’d defeated Palucho 7-5. West and Sampson battled to a 13th deciding game before West dropped the last 10-ball to claim the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Wilkie and Shuff were working their way toward a potential re-match, which would have occurred in the quarterfinals had it not been for Scott Haas. As Wilkie was busy tallying his 4th loss-side win, downing William Gallagher 7-3, Haas was at work eliminating Shuff 7-5. Wilkie subsequently defeated Haas 7-4, which set him (Wilkie) up to face Del Sim. Palucho drew Michael Yednak, who’d shut out Dylan Spohr and given up only a single rack to co-event director, Rick Scarlato, Jr.
 
Wilkie advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Sim and was joined by Yednak, who’d defeated Palucho 7-2. Wilkie took the quarterfinals 7-3 over Yednak and then shut Sampson out in the semifinals.
 
Momentum aside, Wilkie was unable to just roll over West in the finals. West got out in front and won it by three (7-4) to claim the MD State 10-Ball Title. 
 
Co-event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Champions Billiards, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, AZBilliards, Simonis Cloth, Billiards Sports Network, Chesapeake Bay TAP Leagues and Aramith Balls.    

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). 

Steve Fleming brings it home at the Maryland State 8-Ball Championship

Rick Scarlata, Brandon Shuff, Steve Fleming and Loye Bolyard (Erwin Dionisio)

It has been a long time coming, but after many years of relentless tour-grinding and dogged determination, local favorite and all-around nice guy Steve Fleming lifted the trophy in victory at the Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD on June 30th. 
 
The summer months historically produce lower turnouts as many prefer to spend time outdoors. This event had fifty-seven players, which is unusually low for a Maryland State event, but it was not without its share of world beaters. Local professionals such as Shaun Wilkie and Brandon Shuff were on deck, as well as the Russian sensation Kristina Tkach, along with Scottish champion Del Sim.
 
Steve played like a man possessed all weekend and was handed his first loss in the sixth round by the seasoned veteran Brandon Shuff. Undaunted, Steve proceeded to eliminate none other than Shaun Wilkie to advance to the winner's bracket. It was here he exacted his revenge on Brandon and marched to victory in the final match. 
 
Steve has been a frequent flyer in many regional and professional events, including the US Open and the Turning Stone Classic Events. Nicknamed "The Ice Cream Man," he certainly did not hesitate to celebrate accordingly!
 
Many thanks to the owners of On The Hill Productions, Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard for hosting another top-quality event. This event was also made possible by the following sponsors:
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
McDermott Cues
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
On The Hill Productions would also like to thank the owner Gary Allen & staff at Champion Billiards for hosting another State event and for their continued support.
 

Brandon Shuff Seals the Deal at Maryland State 9-Ball Championship

Brandon Shuff, Loye Bolyard, Shaun Wilkie, Jake Lawson, Kenny Ruttman and Rick Scarlato

In yet another action-packed weekend of competitive pool, Brandon Shuff emerged as the winner of the Maryland State 9-Ball Championship. The event, which is owned and managed by On The Hill Productions, was held at the Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD during the weekend of May 4th-5th. This has been a successful year so far for Brandon. He recently finished 4th in the Barry Behrman Memorial in April and the VA State 10-Ball in February. In this tournament, he sailed through the field and dropped only one set to Shaun Wilkie, who came back from the B-side to try and claim the title. Brandon held firm and was able to lift the trophy in victory.
 
The 82-player field was customarily strong, loaded with such powerhouses as Shaun Wilkie, Kevin West, Brett Stottlemyer, Chip Klein, Del Sim, David Hennessy, Kenny Rutman, Matt Krah, Steve Fleming, Thomas Zippler and Scott Haas to name a few. The ladies were represented by local favorites Bethany Sykes, Eugenia Gyftopoulos, Gwen Townsend, Lai Li, Stefanie Manning and newcomer to the tournament scene, Jenny Mohammed.
 
Not to be left out, the young guns also made their presence felt. Tournament-regulars Dylan Spohr and Coen Bell were there to stir the pot, but the young man who stood head and shoulders above the rest was Justin Martin from Wilmington, NC. He had a very strong finish of fourth place and impressed everyone with his display of fundamentals, technique, and poise. Don't be surprised if he snaps off one of these big events very soon! 
 
The recent champion of the MD State 9-Ball Bar Table Championship, Brandon Sluzalis was also there, but his efforts to repeat were cut short first by Kenny Rutman, then by the straight-shooting Bobby Pacheco. He had to settle for 9th. place.
 
Congratulations to all who finished in the top 24 places this weekend. 
This event owes its success to the following sponsors:
McDermott Cues
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
Many thanks to the owner Gary Allen & staff at Champion Billiards for hosting another successful event. The high-quality free stream was provided by Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield of Billiard Sports Network. Tour directors Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard continue to provide great tournaments with the utmost professionalism and quality.

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.

Chua downs Atencio twice to win MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships

(in foreground, l to r): Rick Scarlato, Jr., Johann Chua, Jesus Atencio & Loye Bolyard

A little shy of a year ago (Nov. 26, 2017), Johann Chua from the Philippines was in Amagasaki, Japan (about four hours southwest of Tokyo) collecting the 1st place prize in the All Japan Open Championships. The victory capped what proved to be Chua’s best recorded earnings year to date; a year in which during the single elimination phase of the Super Billiards Expo’s Player Championships (April, 2017) he’d defeated, in order, Mika Immonen, Jayson Shaw and Dennis Hatch, before being eliminated in the finals by Shane Van Boening.
 
When Chua arrived on scene at the 2018 Maryland State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships on the weekend of Nov. 3-4, he had yet to chalk up a 2018 victory, at least one that appeared in our records. He wasted little time, marching through the field of 95 entrants, chalking up wins in nearly three out of every four games he played (71%), defeating Jesus Atencio twice and claiming the event title. The annual event, held under the auspices of On The Hill Productions, drew its 95 entrants to Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD.
 
Chua arrived at the winners’ side semifinals, to face Derick Daya, on the heels of four victories and an aggregate game score of 28-8 (77%). Atencio in the meantime, sporting an even better four-match winning percentage (80%; 28-7) squared off against Kevin West. Chua notched his winning percentage up a bit with a 7-2 win over Daya, while Atencio lowered his percentage as he survived a double hill battle against West (the only opponent to chalk up more than two racks against him). Chua claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Atencio to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, West and Daya ran into a pair of tough customers – Mike Davis, Jr. and Shaun Wilkie, respectively. Davis had recently defeated Curtis Branker and Rick Scarlato, Jr., both 7-3 to draw West. Wilkie had eliminated Joshua McCauley 7-2 and Dylan Spohr 7-3 to face Daya.
 
Wilkie, who’d been sent to the loss side in a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal by West, did his part to assure an event quarterfinal rematch with a 7-3 win over Daya. West followed suit by downing Davis 7-5. Wilkie and West came within a game of a second double hill fight in those quarterfinals, but Wilkie closed it out, edging ahead to win it 7-5.
 
He was not as fortunate in the semifinals against Atencio that followed. This did go to double hill and this time, it was Atencio advancing for a second shot against Chua with a victory over Wilkie. Chua duplicated his hot seat efforts with a second 7-4 win over Atencio to claim the event title.
 
Tour directors Rick Scarlato, Jr. and Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Bank Shot Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay), Billiard Sports Network, Phillippi Custom Cues, Navigator Premium Tips and Chalk, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, and Roy’s Basement.
 
According to Loye Bolyard, On the Hill Productions is in the midst of preparing its 2019 schedule, which will include Championship events in 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball. Bolyard expects the schedule to be completed in the next week or two.

Scarlato wins first Action Pool Tour stop under new management

(l to r): Rick Scarlato & APT co-owner Tiger Baker

 

Ozzy Reynolds, former owner/tour director of the Action Pool Tour and current CEO of Cue Sports International traveled to Newport News, VA on the weekend of Oct. 13-14 to pass the Action Pool Tour ownership baton to its new owners, Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker. The idea was to assist the new owners with the logistics of their first tour stop at the APT helm. When the $270-added event, hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, drew a modest field of 20 entrants, Wylie and Baker asked Reynolds to join the field of entrants and compete. Without too much arm-twisting, Reynolds agreed and damn near won the thing.
 
As it turned out, Rick Scarlato, who’d been sent to the loss side by Reynolds and won five on that side of the bracket, earned himself a rematch against Reynolds, who’d advanced to the hot seat. But Reynolds was already gone, having agreed, due to the lateness of the hour and the impending closing time of the venue, to accept second place. This left Scarlato to face Greg Sabins, who’d been defeated by Reynolds in the hot seat match. With the venue set to close, the two agreed to a single-game final. Scarlato won that game to claim the first title under the auspices of the APT’s new management team.
 
Nothing like a smooth, standard first-time experience for new management. The event started out normally enough. Reynolds won a preliminary round over RAndy Davis, before meeting up with Scarlato and sending him on what proved to be his loss-side journey back to the finals. Reynolds moved on to defeat Jaime Gonzalez 8-2 to earn a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Tim Collins. Sabins, in the meantime, got by Jason Trigo (#2 on the APT’s Ranking List) 8-3 and James Miller 8-2 to draw Steve Fleming (#1 on the APT list) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Reynolds downed Collins 8-2 as Sabins was busy sending Fleming to the loss side 8-5. Reynolds won his last match 8-5 over Sabins to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Scarlato got by Larry Phlegar 8-2, James Miller 8-6 and Jose Vega Hernandez 8-4 to draw Collins. Fleming picked up Jaime Gonzalez, who, after being sent to the loss side by Reynolds, had eliminated Trigo 8-4 and Randy Davis 8-3.
 
Scarlato advanced to the quarterfinals with an 8-4 victory over Collins and was joined by Fleming, who’d survived a double hill match against Gonzalez. Reynolds’ exit from the field turned the quarterfinals into the semifinals and Scarlato downed Fleming 8-5 to move into the single-game final. Scarlato won the single game over Sabins and claimed the title.
 
APT owners and tour directors Wylie and Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Peninsula Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Viking Cues, Predator Cues, Tiger Products, Diamond Billiard Products, Inc., Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls and George Hammerbacher Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 10-11, will be the VA State 8-Ball Championships, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.
 

Shuff slices through a field of 79 to claim inaugural MD State 10-Ball Championships

Brandon Shuff (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Aranas wins nine on the loss side to challenge him in the finals
 
Brandon Shuff chalked up his first 2018 major event victory at the On the Hill Productions’ 2018 Maryland State 10-Ball Championships, navigating his way through a field of 79 entrants at Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD on the weekend of Sept. 22-23. He went undefeated through that field.  In the end, he claimed the title by defeating, in his final two matches, Earl Strickland for the hot seat and in the finals, Philipines’ Zoren James Aranas, who'd won nine on the loss side to challenge him and was looking to earn his eighth 2018 title.
 
It was an extraordinarily robust field of entrants for an event with a total prize package of just under $6,000 ($5,925) and included a list of this and other country’s top players, beginning with Shuff, Aranas and Strickland. Also on hand were Shaun Wilkie, Zion Zvi, Alex Osipov, Matt Krah and Jorge Rodriguez. There were women competing, as well; among them, Karen Corr, Jennifer Barretta and Kia Sidbury.
 
It was, said Shuff, in a post-finals interview with Billiard Sports Network, the first time that he’d been able to leap the ‘Zoren James Aranas’ hurdle. They’d met, most recently, in April at the 2nd Annual Barry Behrman Memorial, where Shuff was defending the title he’d won in the inaugural event. Aranas sent Shuff to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal match, and though he’d come back through five loss-side matches to challenge him in the finals, Aranas defeated him a second time to claim that title.
 
This time, it was Aranas coming from the loss side. It was Shaun Wilkie who sent Aranas over 7-5 in the second round, which launched the nine-match, loss-side streak that ended in the finals. Shuff in the meantime, was launching his own uninterrupted winners’ side streak with victories over Mark Nanashee 7-2, Kenny Rutman 7-1, Matt Krah in a double hill fight, and Jennifer Barretta 7-4. Shuff drew Eddie Abraham in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Also in the meantime, Earl Strickland was working on the winners’ side toward a meetup with Shuff in the hot seat match. Strickland had downed Eric Gonzalez 7-3, shut out Corey Rausch, defeated Dylan Spohr 7-2, sent James Blackburn west 7-1 and got into a winners’ side semifinal match against Del Sim with a 7-3 win over Wilkie.
 
Strickland got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 win over Sim. Shuff joined him after a 7-5 victory over Abraham. In the battle for the hot seat, their respective Fargo Ratings – 775 for Strickland and 738 for Shuff – gave Strickland a 68.1% edge in their race to 7. In the first of two straight matches, Shuff defied the odds and claimed the hot seat with a 7-4 win.
 
Meanwhile, back at the loss-side ranch, Aranas was working his way through to a meetup with Abraham. Aranas had most recently defeated Joey Korsiak 7-4 (loss-side win #6) and eliminated Wilkie (#7) 7-5 to reach him. Sim drew Jennifer Barretta, originally sent to the loss side by Shuff in the fifth round, who’d most recently defeated Tom Matikainen 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against Adam Kielar.
 
Aranas advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 victory over Abraham, and was joined by Sim, who’d eliminated Barretta 7-4. Barretta’s finish in the tie for 5th place made her the top finishing female at this event. Corr finished just out of the money in the eight-way tie for 25th.
 
Aranas and Sim then locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight which eventually sent Aranas to a semifinal match against Strickland. Aranas got his shot at Shuff in the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Strickland.
 
Shuff and Aranas entered the finals with a 68-point differential in their respective Fargo Ratings; Aranas with the advantage, 806 to 738. The calculated ‘odds’ gave Aranas an 80.6% advantage in their race to 7.
 
Shuff didn’t get the Fargo memo. He downed Aranas 7-5 in those finals to win his first 2018 title and claim the first Maryland State 10-Ball Championships.
 
Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Navigator Tips, Phillippe Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay), Billiards Sports Network, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth. The next On the Hill Productions’ event, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 3-4, will be the Maryland State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, to be hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD.