Syracuse Italian Fest Bocce Tournament Recap

The centerpiece of the Syracuse Italian Festival is a double elimination 4 on 4 memorial bocce tournament which goes from approximately 9am to 5pm on Saturday and usually builds some fairly impressive drama as it unfolds.

If you don’t know much about our history of participating in the Italian Fest you might want to read #7 in this top 10 Turbo Bocce memories article from our tenth anniversary – its a story filled with drama.

After participating in this tournament for the first time 10 years ago, and pissing off what felt like all the Italian people in Syracuse by winning easily, we went on to win the next seven Italian Fest bocce tournaments in a row. Then, for some reason, the bounces stopped going our way and the championship team was not a Turbo Bocce team two sad years in a row.

Could we end the curse? Would we win it this year? It sounds like there should have been a lot of drama this time around. Spoiler alert, there was not.

24 teams participated in the tournament. 8 of those teams (or one-third of the field) were Turbo Bocce teams.

Some of the Non-Turbo Bocce players I spoke with traveled from Oswego, Utica, Rome, even a couple from Italy to try to win this thing. A few of the teams had matching uniforms, most seemed to play organized bocce in one form or another and had been planning to participate in this tournament (and hopefully win) for a long time.

Almost all of those teams lost when they came up again a Turbo Bocce team. As usual several of the Turbo Bocce teams were forced to eliminate each other along the way, but from what I saw everybody played well. My team, for example, didn’t win the bocce contest, but we did win the contest for most jello shots, which is almost as much fun to win.

It seemed pretty obvious, pretty early on that this was our year as a league, and just as obvious (to me at least) which one of our teams was going to win it.

The winners bracket came down to two of our teams facing off. On one side was our last two champs teaming up, Bryan Mullane and Greg Griffo of Los Moppine and Phil Martino and George Christou of Dog Brothers. On the other side, two of Turbo Bocce’s best players Tim Maynard and Colin Donahoe impressively lead two newcomers to bocce all the way to the finals of the winners bracket.

Bryan, Greg, George, and Phil took a big lead, but that was no assurance of victory as Colin and Tim came all the way back from 9-1 down (these games only go to 10) once already. Of course that was against a non-Turbo Bocce team. Against Bryan, Greg, George, and Phil it was not to be, as those four went on to the finals while Tim and Colin had to face the champions of the losers bracket.

As luck would have it, the team that emerged from the losers bracket also happened to be a Turbo Bocce team. It was Jim Whipple, John Bauman, Robb Jones, and Angelo Isgro, and they squared off against Tim and Colin’s team for a place in the championship. This was a tightly fought game to the end as you can see from the below highlight but Tim and Colin’s team won, earning a rematch against Bryan, Greg, George, and Phil in the finals.

Jim, John, Robb, and Angelo got the third place money!

The following highlight is the championship winning shot . . .

That bocce from Phil Martino proved ultimately to be unbeatable, as Colin’s next shot missed and Bryan, Greg, George and Phil won the tournament. Notice Bryan Mullane’s reaction as you watch the video below. If you don’t know why yet, you will understand soon!

Tim and Colin’s team took the second place money!

Turbo Bocce’s Italian Fest dynasty begins again as we took first, second, and third place for only the third time ever.

Phil Martino and George Christou have become what you might call Italian Fest specialists with Phil winning his fourth Italian Fest title, and George winning his third. This is a huge accomplishment as the Italian Fest bocce tournament is a roll only tournament on five courts with difficult ground – some of the courts have hills, and some do not, and each of the courts has a different set of bocce balls each of different sizes and weights.

And, of course, the elephant in the room . . .

If you read my article on Bryan Mullane (in which I call their team being the favorite to win it!), you know that he won the first two legs of the Turbo Bocce triple crown . . . the Italian Fest is the third leg of the triple crown . . . nobody has EVER won the triple crown before . . . meaning . . . Bryan won the triple crown!

That’s right, we have history, folks. Bryan Mullane won the 1 on 1 tournament. The 2 on 2 Turbo Bocce championship, and the 4 on 4 Italian Fest bocce tournament all in the same year! These are huge, highly competitive bocce tournaments. Its a praiseworthy feat to come in 3rd place in even one of these tournaments. To win all three is truly a historical kind of amazing.

Watch out for a triple crown article (coming soon) further detailing Bryan’s triumphant year, along with his teammate Greg who didn’t win the triple crown but who did win the Tuesday League championship, the Wednesday League championship, and the Italian Fest championship(otherwise known as every competition he played in).

Congrats to everybody who participated, and congrats to Turbo Bocce as a league. Not only did we win first, second, and third place in the tournament, but the organizers of the event have agreed to use our bocce balls on all five courts starting next year. This should make for a better bocce experience for everybody involved, and lets face it, give our players a small edge. Something to look forward to next year!

The Turbo Bocce players who won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at Italian Fest!