A little rest made all the difference Saturday as U.S.A. East won the 26th annual Candlepin Bowling World Team Championship at Bangor-Brewer Lanes in Brewer.
The team earned a bye into the semifinals after claiming the top seed in the Holiday Inn division.
U.S.A. East posted a 2,013 score in the semifinals, the only team to eclipse the 2,000-pin mark during the week, to defeat Vacationland of Saco by 180 pins and make its way into the finals.
Gary Carrington bowled a 445 series to lead the team.
“He was unstoppable,” said teammate Shawn Morrison of Brewer. “He bowled so well. That got the team excited and pumped up.”
After a short wait between playoff rounds, U.S.A. East, which is composed of six Massachusetts bowlers, three Maine bowlers and Carrington, of Plaistow, N.H., got off to a slow start against Lucky Strike of Massachusetts in the finals.
Lucky Strike, which topped Halifax Fairlanes/A+ of Nova Scotia 1,892 to 1,833 in the semifinals, held a 22-pin lead after the first string, but U.S.A. East battled back.
“They’d get a mark, but we’d get two marks (in the second string),” said Morrison, referring to strikes and spares. “By the end of the second string, we were up 23 pins.
“That pumped us up again and we said, ‘OK, let’s go out and finish it off.'”
U.S.A. East posted a 58-pin margin in the third string to win 1,940 to 1,859 and claim the championship.
Morrison posted a 423 series to lead U.S.A. East and win his second championship. He also won with the Maine Heat in 2001 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Carrington, who bowled a 372 series, earned his eighth championship while Charlie Milan of Brewer and John Bird each won their second. It was the first title for the rest of the team members.
The week didn’t start well for U.S.A. East, which lost Chris Sargent of Massachusetts to illness. On Wednesday afternoon, Morrison caught the virus.
“And then Nate (Neally of Westbrook) had it on Thursday,” said Morrison.
Role players proved vital to getting the team the bye through the first two playoff rounds.
“We had Charlie bowl a few strings for us, and Chuck Desrosiers and John Bird. There were extra bodies to help us rest,” said Morrison. “Having those guys on the roster really helped us.”
The team took home the $10,000 first prize while Lucky Strike settled for its $5,000 runner-up check.
U.S.A. East will try to defend its championship in Halifax next November.
Morrison is already looking forward to it.
“I can’t wait,” said Morrison.