Tish Johnson washed away some bad Baltimore memories last night on the way to her third straight tournament victory on the Ladies Professional Bowlers Tour.
Johnson, 29, had been to Baltimore the past two years on the LPBT circuit and failed both times to make it among the 24 qualifiers.
Last year, she fell during a game and had to fly home to Panorama City, Calif., for treatment on her knee.
But last night, Johnson managed to stay on her feet all evening to score a 174-166 victory over Dana Miller-Mackie in the championship match of the $50,000 LPBT Hammer Eastern Open at Country Club Lanes on Pulaski Highway.
"I was sticking all night on the lanes and just wanted to stay on my feet," said Johnson. "It must be the humidity with all the people in here[approximately 300 for the nationally televised finals] or the treatment on the lanes, but I came close to falling a couple of times. Obviously, I was thinking about last year."
Johnson didn't have to worry about bowling a sensational round against Miller-Mackie, 34, who seemed to wear out after winning three straight games in the stepladder finals, moving from the fourth seed to a showdown for the first-place prize money of $9,000.
Moments after winning, Johnson was in a fine mood, even though her score wasn't that impressive.
"All you need is one pin," said Johnson. "And I just got my check, and I'm sure the money will spend the same. I'm buying drinks for everyone."
Miller-Mackie began the night by nipping fifth-seeded Aleta Sill, 223-221, and went on to turn back third-seeded Wendy Macpherson, 208-203, and second-seeded Leanne Barrette, 203-200, to gain the final match.
"I was nervous and didn't come through," said Miller-Mackie. "The lanes were starting to break down, and I didn't make the shots."
Miller-Mackie lost a chance for the title when she opened the 10th frame leaving the 2 pin standing.
"The ball didn't come up on the 2," she said of her attempt to convert a 2-4-7 spare. "I had every chance to win the game, but I couldn't get going. I don't mind losing, but I hate to beat myself."
When Johnson started sticking on the lanes at the start of the championship match, she figured her tournament winning streak would end at two.
"I thought Dana would bury me the way she had been going," said Johnson, "but she just got nervous and gave me a chance."
After a little celebrating, Johnson said she would drive her Ford Bronco 700 miles to Hammond, Ind., today for the next stop on the tour.
"I just started driving to tournaments, and I don't mind it," she said. "I drove to Virginia Beach and then to Claymont, Del."
Johnson becomes only the third LPBT bowler to win three consecutive tournaments. Lisa Wagner did it in 1988 and Patty ** Costello in 1976.
1, Tish Johnson, Panorama City, Calif., 1 game, 174 pins, $9,000 2, Dana Miller-Mackie, Albuquerque, N.M., 4 games, 800 pins, $4,500. 3, Leanne Barrette, Oklahoma City, 1 game, 200 pins, $2,800. 4, Wendy Macpherson, San Diego, 1 game, 203 pins, $2,500. 5, Aleta Sill, Dearborn, Mich., 1 game, 221 pins, $2,100.
First match--Miller-Mackie def. Sill, 223-221. Second match--Miller-Mackie def. Macpherson, 208-203. Third match--Miller-Mackie def. Barrette, 203-200. Championship match--Johnson def. Miller-Mackie, 174-166.