HAMMOND | Mike Kubacki sailed through the winner's bracket at the fourth annual Times/Pepsi Masters Classic Sunday at Olympia Lanes. Then he ran into Cornell Ray.
Kubacki topped Ray 194-160 to become the first bowler to win both the Times/Pepsi Classic and Times/Pepsi Masters Classic. But it took two chances, as Ray won the first match 202-189 to force another.
"Everybody in this area cares about winning the Times Classic and the Masters is what some of us really covet now, because we know how tough the lane conditions is," Kubacki, a three-time Class A Classic champion, said.
The Calumet College men's bowling coach qualified fifth with an 828 four-game series. Ray was the 13th qualifier and lost to Kubacki in the second round of match play, but fought his way all the way back to the finals.
In the first game, Ray left splits in the third, fifth and seventh frames. That opened things up for Kubacki but he couldn't capitalize, failing to strike in his first five throws.
"I made a commitment to play the lanes that way, because that was what had worked (earlier)," Kubacki said. "But I had Plan B, in case it didn't work out and I bowled a pretty good match."
Kubacki didn't miss his second chance in Game 2 when Ray left a pair of pins in the third frame. He didn't just enough to win.
"We teach our college bowlers on this type of (oil) pattern and it was really fun to come out here and practice what I preach," the Griffith resident said. "I'm always telling them to just be close on every shot, be close on every shot and that's all I did today."
Ray beat Craig Keith to advance out of the loser's bracket.
Jerry James, who was only bowling in match play because Frank Logan didn't participate, pulled off the upset of the night when he topped PBA tour regular Eugene McCune in the opening playoff round.
Logan went home after his qualifying round believing he'd missed the cut and didn't return.
McCune took the last cash spot, finishing eighth. Keith, James, Sammy Krucek, Ryan Burks and Kevin Mikalouski also cashed.
The Times/Pepsi Classic begins Saturday with qualifying squads at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. For more information, visit olympialanes.com.