Brilliant Baxter's Birmingham Win
RONNIE BAXTER defeated World Champion Adrian Lewis to win his first ranking title for ten months in Saturday's Players Championship in Birmingham.
The Blackpool ace claimed the £6,000 first prize in the tournament at the NIA Community Hall with a brilliant display in the final, taking a 6-3 win over Lewis in a heavy-scoring contest.
Baxter showed strong form throughout the event in wins over Steve Grubb, Dennis Smith, Joe Cullen, James Hubbard and Peter Hudson to reach the semi-finals, where he hit back from 4-1 down to defeat Wes Newton.
Baxter could have taken a 6-4 win only to miss his chance to win the game as Newton forced a decider, before the world number five missed two darts for victory himself in the final leg as his local rival prevailed.
Baxter then raced into a 3-0 lead against Lewis in the final, aided by back-to-back 13 dart finishes before Lewis traded 180s with the Blackpool star to win the fourth in the same manner.
Lewis also hit a 180 in leg five, but missed the bull and two darts at double eight to hit back as Baxter finished double ten to lead 4-1.
Lewis produced a superb 11-darter to win his second leg, but another miss on the bullseye allowed Baxter to follow up another 180 with a third-dart double five to move a leg away from the win.
The pair also traded maximums in the eighth leg as Lewis produced a 14-darter to keep the match alive, but Baxter's sixth 180 of the game pushed him clear in the next before he landed double ten for victory.
Baxter finished the final with an average of 100.55, hitting six 180s plus a 174 and a 171, while Lewis hit four maximums and averaged 105.79.
The win could prove vital for Baxter in his bid to qualify via the ProTour Order of Merit for next month's World Matchplay in his home town, cementing his place amongst the 16 qualifying positions.
Lewis' run saw him reach the final of a ProTour event for the first time since March 2011, as he earned £3,000 prize money on the day.
The world number two picked up wins over Mark Hylton, Dean Winstanley, Justin Pipe, Stuart Kellett, Mark Walsh and Colin Lloyd to reach the final - finishing 81 on the bullseye in the deciding leg against Kellett and 126 on the bull to seal a 6-4 win over Walsh.
Lloyd's semi-final place aids his World Matchplay challenge, with his run to the last four including wins over Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld, which saw the Essex ace take out 101 to defeat the Dutchman 6-5.
Newton followed up his run to the quarter-finals of the Speedy Services UK Open last week by reaching the semis in Birmingham, earning a last four spot with a narrow win over Simon Whitlock.
Eccles' Peter Hudson reached the quarter-finals for the first time on the PDC ProTour with his run to the last eight, which included a victory over UK Open champion Robert Thornton.
The event saw a remarkable comeback from Suffolk's Andrew Gilding in the first round, as he came from 5-0 down against Barrie Bates to take victory, while youngster Michael Smith hit five 12-dart legs in a whitewash over Darren Johnson in round two.
Sunday will see a second Players Championship of the weekend take place in the NIA Community Hall.
Players Championship 7
Saturday June 16, NIA Community Hall, Birmingham
Justin Pipe (1) Bye
Jeff Smith 6-5 Arron Monk
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Mark Hylton (32)
Dean Winstanley 6-4 Gareth Cousins
Terry Jenkins (16) 6-1 Alan Tabern
Stuart Kellett 6-2 Mark Dudbridge
Peter Wright (17) 6-1 William O'Connor
Darren Webster 6-5 Mike Veitch
Mark Webster (8) 6-1 Stephen Hardy
Matthew Edgar 6-4 Matt Clark
Mark Walsh (25) 6-3 Paul Barham
Nigel Heydon 6-3 Andy Relf
Michael van Gerwen (9) 6-1 Adam Smith-Neale
Nick Fullwell 6-3 Steve Evans
Richie Burnett (24) 6-1 Reece Robinson
Sam Hill 6-1 Ian Moss
Raymond van Barneveld (5) 6-5 John Bowles
Mark Jones 6-2 Ian Jopling
Brendan Dolan (28) 6-4 Devon Petersen
Tony Littleton 6-4 Liam Kelly
Dennis Priestley 6-3 Vincent van der Voort (12)
Jamie Lewis 6-4 Richie Howson
Colin Lloyd (21) 6-5 Prakash Jiwa
Mark Frost 6-4 Ryan Harrington
Gary Anderson (4) 6-1 Chris Thompson
Alex Roy 6-3 James Richardson
Co Stompe (29) 6-4 John Henderson
Steve Farmer 6-1 Paul Rowley
John Part (13) 6-2 Jelle Klaasen
Gareth Pass 6-5 Magnus Caris
Jamie Caven (20) 6-4 Darren Whittingham
Chris Aubrey 6-4 Josh Jones
Dave Chisnall (2) Bye
Wayne Jones 6-1 Steve Brown
Robert Thornton 6-5 Scott Rand (31)
Roland Scholten 6-5 John Scott
Terry Temple 6-5 Kevin Painter (15)
Peter Hudson 6-4 Andy Jenkins
Mervyn King (18) 6-2 Michael Mansell
Scott Coleman 6-1 Jack Hill
Ronnie Baxter (7) 6-2 Steve Grubb
Dennis Smith 6-5 Daniel Starkey
Ian White (26) 6-2 Mick Todd
Joe Cullen 6-4 Joe Murnan
Paul Nicholson (10) 6-0 Shaun Griffiths
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Barrie Bates
James Hubbard 6-4 Andy Smith (23)
Jerry Hendriks 6-5 Matt Padgett
Simon Whitlock (6) 6-2 Keegan Brown
Jim Walker 6-1 Paddy Meaney
Andy Hamilton (27) 6-1 Johnny Haines
Keith Stephen 6-1 Les Wallace
Ted Hankey 6-2 Colin Osborne (11)
Steve Hine 6-2 Antonio Alcinas
Kim Huybrechts (22) 6-1 Adrian Gray
Kevin Dowling 6-1 Damien Sherwood
Wes Newton (3) 6-3 Kurt Van De Rijck
Gino Vos 6-3 Mareno Michels
Brian Woods 6-5 Denis Ovens (30)
Ross Smith 6-4 Tony West
Steve Beaton (14) 6-2 Steve Maish
Kevin McDine 6-2 Gary Butcher
Michael Smith (19) 6-4 Michael Barnard
Darren Johnson 6-2 Dave Ladley
Justin Pipe 6-4 Jeff Smith
Adrian Lewis 6-1 Dean Winstanley
Stuart Kellett 6-4 Terry Jenkins
Peter Wright 6-3 Darren Webster
Mark Webster 6-1 Matthew Edgar
Mark Walsh 6-3 Nigel Heydon
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Nick Fullwell
Richie Burnett 6-3 Sam Hill
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Mark Jones
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Tony Littleton
Jamie Lewis 6-5 Dennis Priestley
Colin Lloyd 6-4 Mark Frost
Gary Anderson 6-2 Alex Roy
Co Stompe 6-1 Steve Farmer
John Part 6-3 Gareth Pass
Jamie Caven 6-2 Chris Aubrey
Wayne Jones 6-1 Dave Chisnall
Robert Thornton 6-4 Roland Scholten
Peter Hudson 6-2 Terry Temple
Mervyn King 6-1 Scott Coleman
Ronnie Baxter 6-1 Dennis Smith
Joe Cullen 6-5 Ian White
Andrew Gilding 6-4 Paul Nicholson
James Hubbard 6-2 Jerry Hendriks
Simon Whitlock 6-0 Jim Walker
Andy Hamilton 6-2 Keith Stephen
Ted Hankey 6-2 Steve Hine
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Kevin Dowling
Wes Newton 6-2 Gino Vos
Ross Smith 6-1 Brian Woods
Steve Beaton 6-3 Kevin McDine
Michael Smith 6-0 Darren Johnson
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Justin Pipe
Stuart Kellett 6-4 Peter Wright
Mark Walsh 6-4 Mark Webster
Richie Burnett 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Colin Lloyd 6-4 Jamie Lewis
Gary Anderson 6-2 Co Stompe
Jamie Caven 6-1 John Part
Robert Thornton 6-3 Wayne Jones
Peter Hudson 6-3 Mervyn King
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 Joe Cullen
James Hubbard 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Andy Hamilton
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Ted Hankey
Wes Newton 6-1 Ross Smith
Michael Smith 6-3 Steve Beaton
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Stuart Kellett
Mark Walsh 6-2 Richie Burnett
Colin Lloyd 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson 6-4 Jamie Caven
Peter Hudson 6-3 Robert Thornton
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 James Hubbard
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Wes Newton 6-3 Michael Smith
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Mark Walsh
Colin Lloyd 6-1 Gary Anderson
Ronnie Baxter 6-1 Peter Hudson
Wes Newton 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Colin Lloyd
Ronnie Baxter 6-5 Wes Newton
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Final - Leg-By-Leg
Adrian Lewis v Ronnie Baxter
0-0 - Ronnie Baxter wins the bull and will throw first.
0-1 - Baxter hits a 180 and finishes double ten to win the opener.
0-2 - Baxter hits a 174, and punishes three misses at tops from Lewis by hitting the same bed to break throw with a 13-darter.
0-3 - Baxter lands another maximum and follows that with a 171 to leave 32 after 12 darts, and hits double 16 at the first time of asking.
1-3 - Lewis opens with a 180 before Baxter lands one of his own on his second visit to the oche - but the Blackpool man pays the price for failing to set up a dart at the bull when needing 88, allowing the World Champion back in to finish tops for a 13-darter.
1-4 - Lewis lands another 180 to leave 81 after nine darts, but misses the bull and two darts at double eight to allow Baxter in to finish double ten.
2-4 - Lewis hits his third maximum of the game and takes out 90 for an 11-darter to hit back.
2-5 - Baxter hits a 180 but misses tops for a 101 finish, allowing Lewis in on 119 only for the World Champion to be off-target on the bull, allowing his opponent back to finish a crucial third-dart double five.
3-5 - Lewis posts another maximum, and although Baxter replies with a 180 of his own the Stoke ace holds his nerve to post double ten and keep the game alive.
3-6 - Baxter opens with a 180 and finishes double ten to claim the win.
Breaks of Throw