Slump blown up with huge night on lanes

Glenn Ayotte and I were bowling about 15 miles apart at the same time Wednesday night, Glenn at Country Lanes in Ishpeming and myself at Superior Lanes in Marquette.

We had a lot in common that night, but really, that’s such a stretch of the truth that I could get hurt if that rubber band snaps.

We were alike in one way – the digits in our three-game series were 3, 5 and 8. But it was the arrangement of those numbers that made all the difference. While I toiled away for an OK 583 set that barely kept my average at 200, Ayotte had a much nicer arrangement of numbers – As in 835.

As in his third U.S. Bowling Congress honor score of 800 or better, and in fact, a tie for the sixth highest three-game series ever bowled in a league in this area, and tied for eighth when including tournament scores.

Ayotte bowled games of 276, 300 and 259 in the Superior Iron Range Federal Credit Union League, the same league he shot 300 the week before.

I mentioned that 300 in this space last week, when the 25-year-old Ishpeming resident said it broke a streak of seven straight times of throwing the first nine strikes in a game without ever getting the 10th one – just since Christmas.

That late-game slump is over. Done. Through. Ka-put.

And even if this latest 300 had stopped at the beginning of the 10th frame, he had plenty in the bank to earn his second 800 throwing two-handed to go with one he had the more conventional one-handed way right out of high school in 2006.

The ’06 one was an 801, while his first two-hander, almost exactly two years ago to the day, was 814.

This time, he went way beyond those scores by throwing 30 strikes in 35 attempts with his 15-pound Storm XXXtreme reactive resin ball.

“I felt great in warmups, and I was coming off a pretty good finish from the night before,” Ayotte said about his Tuesday league where he opened with 180 but averaged 267 the last two games to just pull out a 700.

Wednesday’s first game started with six strikes before what he called a “rip 9-pin” – basically a horrible tap on a great throw – stopped his first bid for 300. He struck out until the third ball in the 10th, when he got a seven-count.

Game two, of course, was a 12-for-12 strikefest.

“I had to make some big moves early in the third game,” he said.

He opened that game with eight-spare, strike, eight-spare, meaning one lane was becoming his bugaboo when it started hooking too much. It prompted him to make a considerable move to the left, away from the gutter.

That got him going on another string of seven strikes in a row until he left a 2-pin on his second ball in the 10th and spared it.

Was he disappointed he didn’t finish out his last frame with all strikes? It would’ve bumped his series to 846, tied for fourth all-time in the area.

“Nah, 800 is 800,” Ayotte said. “My target the last game was 224. That’s what I needed to get to 800.

“Actually, I reached one of my goals, which was to have a 300 and an 800 in the same set. A lot of the good bowlers around here have done that.”

Two other Ishpeming residents added their names to the 300 list recently at Country Lanes.

Last week in the Friday Senior All-Timers session, Bob Maki, 60, bowled 300 in the middle of what was an otherwise subpar day with a 146 opener and 179 final game for 625.

“It was a roller coaster day,” Maki said. “I didn’t have it to start with, then I found it for a game, and I lost it just as fast.”

But it was noteworthy that this one came 18 years to the day after his first 300 in 1995, also at Country Lanes.

“I’ve still got the printout of that one framed,” he said.

Back on Jan. 27, Tom Connors rolled 300 competing in the first round of the Carp River Doubles Tournament. It helped get he and partner Scott Niemi into the second round, but they were eliminated at that point.

“Every one of his shots was right in the hole,” Niemi said in describing Connors’ second 300 game.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.