Jason McReady wins Beat the Champions by one pin

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Jason McReady of Minooka converted a 3-6-7-10 split in the last of his four games Sunday on his way to winning the men’s finals of Beat the Champions. | Mary Beth Nolan/For the Sun-Times

DeKALB, Ill. — It came down to the final ball in the tightest men’s finals in the 54 years of Beat the Champions.

Jason McReady picked up a 3-6-7-10 split in the last of the four games to win with a score of 1,060, including 108 pins of handicap.

‘‘I have made that split some other times,’’ said McReady, a Microsoft manager from Minooka, who advanced from Suburbanite Bowl. ‘‘My coach [Gregg Zicha] would have killed me if I didn’t make it.’’

McReady earned a one-pin victory over Jim Stonecipher, who rolled the only 300 of the day in the third game but left the 10-pin on the last ball of the last game.

‘‘It didn’t bend as much as I would have liked,’’ said Stonecipher, who rolled a scratch 1,059.

‘‘Give credit to Jim,’’ said McReady, who won a 2015 Ford Fiesta from Local Ford Stores. ‘‘We fed off each other all day.’’

McReady and Stonecipher were throwing on the same pair of lanes. In the finals of Beat the Champions, bowlers jump two pairs of lanes after each game.

‘‘He was throwing a phenomenal ball; I knew it would come down to him and me,’’ said Stonecipher, a chimney sweep from Yorkville, who advanced out of Funway Entertainment Center. ‘‘When he picked up that split, I knew it was over.’’

About his 11th career 300 game, Stonecipher said: ‘‘After the front five or six, I started shaking.’’

If McReady hadn’t been bowling, he would have been shaking and shivering at the Polar Plunge. He had planned to take part in the plunge with other members of his store in Oak Brook, which raised $6,000.

Beat the Champions, which has been co-sponsored for 54 years by the Sun-Times and the Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association, has its own big numbers on charity.

In the first 53 years, more than 5.7 million entries have raised nearly $2.8 million.

Tom Hayes, who finished third with a scratch 979 when he closed with a 279, said he knew it wasn’t enough.

‘‘Those guys were pretty far ahead,’’ said Hayes, a sales rep for Grainger from Volo.

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