Vescio’s Franklin Hotel goes back-to-back

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The 45th World Series of Bocce came to a close Sunday evening, with Vescio’s Franklin Hotel clinching the women’s division title for the second straight year.

In the open division, the Vandra Brothers of Cleveland, Ohio beat out Mellace’s Legal Eagles in the two-game finals after the Rome team came out of the losers bracket.

“We’re playing together as a team,” said Franklin Hotel captain Anne Marie Zakala of her group’s continued success. “We’re picking each other up if we’re having a couple bad frames, and we’re not giving up.”

The Franklin came out of the winners bracket and needed only one win over Nye Toyota to wrap up the series.

After a back-and-forth showdown, Cheryl Iacone shot the game-winning point to end the match 16-15 in her team’s favor — just as she did in last year’s championship bout.

“I have a great team to back me up,” she said of the feat, “and we just play as a good team together.”

“There’s a lot of good teams,” she added of the competition.

Both Zakala and Iacone plan on returning for next year’s World Series.

Nye Toyota, the runner-up for the women’s division, had come out of the semifinals having beaten Four Friends, 16-14.

Team member Cary Maya said Nye was fighting for survival after a loss early in the tournament, and that their second-place showing was a victory.

“We lost Saturday morning, so I didn’t think in a million years we would be here tonight,” she said.

“But we made it all the way to the end, and I am so beyond proud of them.”

Also finishing in the top 10 from Rome in the women’s division were Sunspace Sunrooms and CA Kaplan, who tied for fifth; Mike’s Detail Shop and Shocktop, who tied for seventh, and Liquor Express, Vacca Financial and Risen Auto, who tied for ninth.

In the open division, Vandra Brothers bested Mellace’s Legal Eagles after the Rome squad eked out a win in game one of the championship, 16-11.

“So, in the finals, they were undefeated, we had to beat them twice,” Mellace team captain Eddie Emmanuele said of the Cleveland outfit.

“We did beat them the first game, and then the second game was another close game, it came down to the end, and they beat us,” he continued. “Overall, it was a great tournament.”

The team’s path to the finals was, said Emmanuele, long and winding.

“We had some great comebacks — we played in a game where we were down 14-5 and we came back to win it, 16-15,” he said.

“Ever since then we went on a roll and won four in a row.”

“We know how difficult it is to get into this position, and we’ve got to take every advantage we can.”

Emmanuele and the Legal Eagles had come out of the semifinals with one loss, having beaten Club Molisani of Ohio for a spot in the final matchup.

The Mellace squad has taken the title before, as recently as 2013.

Last year, said Emmanuele, the team placed seventh. He confirmed the team would return for the 46th Series next July.

Scott Painter, a member of the open division champion Vandra Brothers, commended organizers of the event.

“I was here in ‘13 and ‘14,” Painter said of the Series, “and this is the best yet.”

“It’s beautiful,” he added. “Nicer courts and everything. The court changes were the difference.”

Painter also said that he and the Vandra Brothers team would be returning to defend their title next summer.

Three other squads from Rome placed in the top 10 in the open division. Turin Technologies tied for fifth, Versace Law tied for seventh and Team Bud Light tied for ninth.

As the event’s final day drew to a close, organizers Paul Calicchia and Mike Ferlo lauded this year’s tournament as a total success, thanking sponsors, volunteers, participants and spectators.

The 2018 World Series has been the largest since the event’s inception in 1974.

The field attracted a record 153 team entries, including 111 in the open division and 42 in the women’s division.

“We put on a show this time,” said Calicchia. “This was amazing this year.”

Asked how he would top this year’s tournament, Ferlo quipped that he’s already found the winning formula.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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