In one of the biggest and most stunning upsets in the history of the World Championships, Italy won the coveted five-player team gold medal Tuesday at the 2018 World Bowling Men’s Championships.
Italy defeated two bowling powerhouses full of professional bowlers to win its first gold medal in World Championships history at the South China Athletic Association Bowling Centre in Hong Kong. The only previous medal Italy has ever won at the World Championships was a bronze medal in the 1971 team event.
In the gold-medal match, Italy took down the United States, 2-0, in the best-of-three Baker match. Italy swept the match with wins of 189-169 and 210-166 on the difficult 38-foot Los Angeles lane pattern.
Team USA had won the gold medal in four of the last six World Championships and was the defending champion, while outside of one medal, Italy has no history of success in the event.
Those factors combined to create one of the biggest upsets in World Championships history for the Italian squad of Pierpaolo De Filippi, Antonino Fiorentino, Marco Parapini, Nicola Pongolini, Marco Reviglio and Erik Davolio.
In the opening game of the gold-medal match, the United States had a chance to win after Italy left a 4-9 split in the ninth frame. That gave Tommy Jones a chance to throw two strikes and get six pins on the fill to win Game 1.
Jones, however, stepped up and left a 4-6-7-10 split when the ball checked up and went high in the final frame, handing the victory in the first game to the Italians.
In the deciding game, Italy started with a double to take the lead and never trailed. In the sixth frame, with the match still within a mark, Team USA’s Chris Barnes left the 1-2-4-8 after flagging the headpin right. On the spare, the ball took off and he missed the spare left, only knocking down the 4-8 for the first open frame of the match.
Up 19 going into the ninth and working on a strike, Italy delivered a clutch double to build on its lead going into the final frame. In the ninth frame for Team USA, EJ Tackett left a wicked ringing 10 pin, essentially sealing Team USA’s fate.
Italy’s anchor bowler needed just seven pins on his first shot in the 10th to lock up the win and came up a little light, leaving an 8 pin, and the Italians celebrated their huge upset victory.
In the semifinal, Italy faced a tough test from Canada, another top team filled with current and former professional bowlers. That match went the distance with Italy winning, 2-1, after taking the first game 176-162 and the third game 190-179. Canada won Game 2, 244-210.
With a chance to put the pressure on Italy in the deciding game, Canada’s Dan MacLelland stepped up first in the final frame and if he struck out, Italy would need a double to win. MacLelland came up a little light and left a 2-4-10 split and missed it, allowing Italy to coast to the victory.
In the other semifinal, Team USA had little trouble disposing of a tough Singapore team, sweeping the match 2-0. The U.S. took the first game 238-194 and won the second game 216-189 to setup the match with Italy.
The final event of the 2018 World Bowling Men’s Championships will conclude Wednesday with the Masters match play event. The medal round will be broadcast live on FloBowling for audiences in North America beginning at 2 a.m. Eastern.