Bowers’ 300 gives the edge: Top two battle in men’s finals of Beat the Champions

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Joseph Bowers smiling after winning the men’s finals of Beat the Champions.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Joseph Bowers rolled a 300 in his third game Sunday to surpass the field at Waveland Bowl in Chicago.

Bowers’ scratch 1,020 won the men’s finals of the 57th Beat the Champions. He held off Allan Pecka, who finished with a scratch 983.

‘‘After the 300, I knew I had gained about 60 pins,’’ Bowers said.

It was no surprise things came down to Bowers and Pecka. Both came in with 242 averages, the highest among the 32 finalists. There were 12 scratch finalists this year.

In BTC, the charity bowling tournament run by the Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association, handicap is 90 percent of the difference between a bowler’s average and 210.

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Bowers, who advanced from Lynwood Bowl, and Pecka, who advanced from Orland Bowl, were bowling on adjoining pairs of lanes and were watching each other.

‘‘I had a chance,’’ Pecka said. ‘‘I knew the last game would decide it.’’

Bowers, 23, who bowled for four years at Calumet College in Whiting, Indiana, had games of 264, 258, 300 and 198. Pecka, 32, rolled games of 257, 267, 246 and 213.

The drop-off in the last game for both men resulted from a change in lanes. A ball-return issue before the start of the finals resulted in lanes 25 to 28 being used without fresh oil. Those were the two pairs where Bowers and Pecka finished.

‘‘When I saw what happened, I thought, ‘Stay clean and grind out,’ ’’ Bowers said.

In BTC finals, bowlers roll four games and move two pairs of lanes after each game.

Bowers, who lives in Hammond, Indiana, eventually might be moving to other places and bowling beyond BTC. He and his family are discussing possible PBA Tour options.

‘‘There has been a lot of talk,’’ Bowers said. ‘‘Definitely looking at it.’’

Meanwhile, Bowers is putting his criminal-justice degree to use by working surveillance at Ameristar Casino. He normally works the second shift but switched Sunday to work the late shift.

In a curious bowling tidbit, Pecka, who lives in Crest Hill and works as a client-service associate for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, bowls left-handed and writes right-handed.

‘‘I am a little bit of both,’’ he said.

During the summer, Pecka worked with coach Tom Menz in New Lenox to change his game.

What stays the same is charity. In the first 56 years of BTC, for which the Sun-Times is the media sponsor, nearly 5.8 million entries have raised more than $2.85 million.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.

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