With a spot in the semifinals of the Aramith 9-Ball Players Championship on the line, John Morra and Dennis Orcollo battled back-and-forth in a match that was fitting for the tournament’s title match.
Any time one player would take a small lead the other would battle back, either tying the score or surging ahead himself. Ultimately, the set ended the way many tough contests have at the two-year-old World Pool Series: in a shootout.
“My goal was to win the match because I was really hoping to not go to a shootout because I’m not really shooting well today,” said Orcollo, stating that he was having issues with his vision during the contest.
In the end, Orcollo shot well enough. The Filipino defeated the Canadian Morra 3-2 in the five-round sudden death shootout Saturday afternoon at Steinway Billiards. Orcollo will face Estonia’s Denis Grabe – who drilled Petri Makkonen 13-3 in the first quarterfinal match of the day – in the semifinals Sunday morning.
“I’m not really happy with my game today but I used my experience to battle,” Orcollo said. “I’ve been playing a lot of tournaments lately so I just stayed focused.”
Using a couple of breaks and runs and a scratch on the break by Orcollo, Morra jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. After a safety battle on the 2-ball in the sixth game, Orcollo was able to pocket the ball and run out – the first of four straight he would win. Morra would reclaim the lead after Orcollo missed a makeable 3-ball in the 10th game and had the chance to go up 7-5 but missed a 3-ball.
“That changed everything in the match. He took the lead and I was fighting back the whole time,” Morra said.
The Filipino won three straight games after Morra’s miss to take an 8-6 lead. Morra once again fought back, taking advantage of an Orcollo dry break and misplayed safety to tie the score. Morra’s break was ruled illegal in the 19th game, and Orcollo ran out the rack and then executed two breaks and runs to get on the hill, 12-9.
But Morra wasn’t finished, taking advantages of a misplayed jump shot by Orcollo in the 22nd game a couple of misses in subsequent games to tie the score at 12 and send the match to a shootout.
“He plays great and he has a lot of heart,” Orcollo said of his opponent.
Morra was able to force the match to hill-hill despite suffering some unfortunate rolls off of the break, with the cue ball twice rolling behind the 9-ball in the final three games.
“I wasn’t drawing the cue ball enough to get over the 9-ball. That was the mistake I made,” Morra said. “The cue ball didn’t have to roll behind the nine both times but it did. That’s just how the balls roll sometimes.”
After both players pocketed balls in the first round of the extra frame Morra missed shots in the second and third rounds while Orcollo made his shot in the second round. After both players made their shots in the fourth frame Morra had a chance to extend the overtime but pushed the nine-ball to the left of the left-hand side corner pocket.
“I just stayed focused and tried to make a ball when it was my turn and finally I made one,” Orcollo said of his performance in the shootout.
The action continues this evening with Canada’s Jason Klatt taking on Alex Kazakis of Greece at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and Chris Melling of England facing Fedor Gorst of Russia at 8 p.m. EST.