When the lights came on for practice, I was standing on the adjoining lane when Eric Fillhart threw his bowling ball down the alley. It smashed into the pocket, but the result was an 8-10 split. Eric turned around with a grin on his face and I said what we were all thinking. "Good place for that," was my suggestion.
That kind of result on a pocket hit is always more humorous during shadow balls. When the real action begins, we aren't as likely to accept those kind of breaks without a few choice words to the management or anyone else that will listen. But this was just practice and Eric and I enjoyed a laugh. We didn't know it at the time, but that shot was going to set the tone for the evening.
On a night when seemingly every bowler was left to scratch his head, somebody decided to play a cruel trick on us. Seriously folks, I have never seen the kind of action that took place Wednesday evening at Dunn's Lanes. The thought that ran through my head was that this was some version of Stand Up Comedy Night. The pins were the comedians and the bowlers were a somewhat reluctant audience.
On any given night at the bowling alley you will see an array of single last row pins standing. The ringing 10, the solid 7 and the equally frustrating 8 or 9-pin will make us wring our hands. There were indeed several good hits that left those solitary back row pins. Those happen. Pocket 8-10 splits are a little less common.
Oh sure, there will be a few scattered though out the house on a normal night. On this night I would venture to say there were more than 20. I kid you not. One of my teammates started the parade in the second frame of game one. He rolled the ball directly into the pocket and neither the 8 nor the 10 budged. Two frames later he hit the pocket again on that lane and this time the 7-10 split stared him in the face.
Frustrated, he pitched his next shot on that lane and left an ugly mess, though no split as the headpin was still standing. Being the good teammate, I told him to trust his shot.
"Throw it in the pocket again," I said. "You can't keep getting splits all night."
So he threw it in the pocket and left the ringing 10. I resisted the urge to say, "I told you so."
At one point during the evening, the 8-10 split was standing on three consecutive lanes. The comedy continued late into the night and no one seemed immune to the carnage. In the eighth frame of a tightly contested game three, Max Mendoza took to the lanes working on a double. The fourth bowler on my opponent's team, Max pounded the pocket and left - wait for it - the 8-10. Anchor bowler Bob Wickard stepped up next also working on a double. He smashed the 1-3 pocket only to leave you guessed it the 8-10.
At this point the comedians were winning and the audience couldn't help but laugh. About the only bowler who didn't seem to leave that pocket 8-10 split was, well, me. Of course, that would be because I couldn't find the silly pocket to begin with. I got my first strike of the night in frame 6 of game two.
As crazy as all these splits were, it was not the wackiest thing that took place on a night when some kind of gremlin was hard at work. On more than a dozen occasions, pins were slid across the lane only to remain standing. Once a 6-pin slid clear over to the 5- pin spot, making an easy spare into a difficult split. Most pins didn't go a full foot like that, but did go far enough to cause the rack to fail to pick them up or knock them over. We frequently were calling back to have pins reset that had no business standing up in the first place.
A person could sit on the end of a lane all night long and try to slide pins a few inches without knocking them over and not accomplish it once. On this night it happened again and again.
I have no explanation for what took place, but I know it will be a night that many of us will not soon forget.
A couple of 299 games rolled minutes apart highlighted the Big 8 League. Jim Ross rolled a 756 series and Greg Tiell a 748, but each left a solid 10-pin on his last ball preventing a perfect game. Rich Yates Jr. had 725, Chuck Jones 692, Scott Washburn 655, Jeff Smith 644, Jack Book 640, Aaron Sherman 638, Mark Baxter 631, George Bridinger 627, Chris King 622, Ron Yentzer 620, Scott Plickert 614, Tom Tiell 613 and Jim Hershberger 610.
Scores from the K of C Lanes included Bennett Paulus 586, Doug Snyder 562, Tim Gassner 547, Herb Sendelbach 541 and Ken Ritzler 520 in the Senior League. In the Lady Knights League Julie Fortner had 492, Debra Gase 435, Carol Burmeister 430, Deb Hoerig 428, Marilyn Gangluff 423, Tammy Schalk 403 and Madonna Gase 403. Paul Gosche shot 566, Bill Mizen 560, Dan Coppes 520, Dick Gabel 519, Mike Ditslear 511, John Ferstler 507, Bob Reinhart 501, Jim Ruess 500, Jim Ferstler 499, Bob West 445, Steve Schafer 436, Jim Donaldson 431 and Paul Fey 407 in the 55 Plus League.
In Wednesday Morning League action Tyson Shope shot 668, David Jumper 660, Aaron Sherman 609, Paul Landers 607, Matt Hoover 582 and Alex Conger 558. Tim Sturgill had 639, John Funk 619, Steve Barnes 608, Tyson Shope 603, Dave Coppus 596, Roger Coppus 589, Phyllis Swander 444 and Ellen Ewing 440 in the Rocket League. In the Sportsman League Chris Johnson fired a 709, Phil Neikirk 664, Rich Yates, Jr. 654, Dick Gabel 640, Chris Rhodes 627, Roger Gannon 593 and Rich Yates, Sr. 583.
Tom Tiell shot 692, Steve Barnes 638, Jerry Collins 623, Tim Sturgill 616, Rhonda Fitch 545, Robin Brownell 477 and Michelle Wagner 441 in the Twilight League. Robin Dickman shot 596, Carla Siebenaller 534, Jan Houk 495, Lorrie Williams 495 and Sue Stine 494 in the Alley Cats League. In the Imperial-Majorette League Steve Steinmetz, Jr. had 694, Jeff Peer 616, Rhonda Fitch 605, Brian Jakupca 561, Deb Nominee 546 and Linda Brookes 487. Bob Steele shot 605, Brian Kidwell 594, Tom Tiell 589 and Janice Young 497 in the Sunday Night Rock N Roll League.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's bowling columnist.
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