Rolling Thunder: Taconic Defends County Crown
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – With the county’s high school bowling championship in his team’s grasp, the county’s top player was ready to roll.
And as he has been all winter, Andrew Robitaille was up to the task.
Robitaille rolled three strikes in the 10th frame to give the Thunder a 213-210 win over Pittsfield in the fifth and deciding game of their best-of-7 Baker format game in the county final.
“I just thought, ‘I need to throw at least two,’ “ Robitaille said. “They’re a really good team. I knew we had to keep on the pressure. We’d been bowling great all day, every single one of us. It’s my last year of high school, I knew I had to go out with a bang. And I think this is going to be good enough.”
Taconic, which tied Pittsfield and Lee for the regular season crown, knocked off fourth-place McCann Tech and its city rival on Wednesday at Cove Bowling Lanes to earn its second straight county title.
Robitaille picked up the ball for the last time in a county match in his high school career needing eight pins to clinch the championship. Instead, he put an exclamation point on the day by giving Taconic a three-pin cushion for a 4-1 match victory.
“[Robitaille] came to me in Game 3 and said, ‘It’s OK if you put me down to four [in the lineup],’ “ Taconic coach Jeff Duhamel said.
“And I asked him if he was crazy. I wasn’t moving him. Not tonight. He was money all year, and he came through at the end today. I have no doubt in Andrew whatsoever.”
Robitaille led the league with a 222 average. He was the only bowler in the league to average 200 or better in his games. He recorded the league’s best single game (268) and best two-game series (512) and went 17-1 in head-to-head matches.
The county championships are not about head-to-head competitions between individual bowles, but the team-oriented Baker matches, where five players from each team alternate frames. Robitaille was the only logical choice for the crucial No. 5 spot in the lineup, which closes the game with the sometimes all-important 10th frame.
Although Taconic tied after 10 weeks of the regular season with Lee and Pittsfield for the top spot, the Thunder boasted four players in the top six in the final individual standings. And, as the defending champ, it appeared to be the favorite going into Wednesday.
But it was Pittsfield that rolled into the title match with all the momentum.
The Generals posted three straight 200 games to close out their 4-1 win over Lee in the semifinals – the only 200 games recorded by any of the four teams in the semis.
And Pittsfield closed the first game of its final against Taconic with six straight strikes to take a dominating 215-140 win.
Jason Maguire, Dylan Carmel and Tyler Vosburgh rolled strikes ahead of anchor Ryan Russo, who got a turkey in the 10th for the Generals to take a 1-0 lead over Taconic.
Taconic came back in the second game, when Mitch McCann, Robitaille and Tanner White rolled three straight strikes in the middle of the game to take control. Later, Mya Duhamel and McCann combined for a double to help secure a 188-171 win and tie the match.
In Game 3, the teams were neck-and-neck going to the ninth frame, but McCann rolled a strike and Robitaille turkeyed to notch a 173-136 win.
The Thunder dominated the fourth game, leaving just one open frame and combining for eight strikes in a 223-129 victory.
After Pittsfield coach Mike Rooney gathered his team for a brief chat, the Generals came out and took it to Taconic, grabbing an early lead on strikes from Maguire, Carmel and Vosburgh in frames 2, 3 and 4.
But Taconic stopped the bleeding with a strike by Robitaille in the fifth frame and a combined spare in the sixth. White threw the first ball, and Alyssa Smith subbed in to pick up a four-pin spare.
The Thunder did not leave a pin standing the rest of the way.
“Alyssa threw a big spare in the third or fourth game, too,” Jeff Duhamel said. “These are those matches when we need the four non-All-Stars to get those shots. I had to keep Alyssa focused, and it paid off, definitely.”
“It was really good,” Robitaille said of Smith’s contribution in the deciding game. “We needed it as a team. We all did amazing. We all couldn’t have done better. This is a good day.”
The county’s top teams will be back at Cove on March 4 looking for another big day at the State Championships.
(to determine top seed in tournament)
Taconic 209, Pittsfield 181, Lee 147
Pittsfield 4, Lee 1
Game scores: Lee 150-149; Pittsfield 160-150; Pittsfield 233-158; Pittsfield 214-131; Pittsfield 208-180.
Taconic 4, McCann Tech 1
Game scores: McCann Tech 167-152; Taconic 197-132; Taconic 146-133; Taconic 169-165; Taconic 155-139.
Taconic 4, Pittsfield 1
Game scores: Pittsfield 215-140; Taconic 188-171; Taconic 173-136; Taconic 223-129; Taconic 213-210.