The night got off to an ugly start for the Alley Oops bowling team in the Yorktowne Match Play League at Suburban Bowlerama.
Tanner Laughman's first ball hit his ankle and ended up in the gutter.
Things got better — much better — as the night progressed.
The four-man team of Laughman, Eric Smith, Jacob Hawkins and Paul Wolfram tallied a 3,013 match, which set the York County record and rates as the second highest in the nation this season. A team from Lexington, Ohio, boasts a 3,057 total.
Smith set the pace with an 810 series, while Wolfram finished with a 795. Hawkins added a 713 and Laughman chipped in with a 695. All four bowlers average 225 or higher.
"We have a lot of talent on our team," Wolfram said. "Everything just clicked for us. We kept pushing each other, and we fed off of each other. It was a super night."
At one point in the match, all four bowlers struck for four consecutive frames. Smith put together a string of 20 consecutive strikes, stretching from the second to the third game.
"We have good team chemistry," Smith said. "We are very competitive, but we have fun, too. Although no one was aware of what the county record for a four-man team was, we knew we must have been close."
Hawkins believes the 3,013 match is even more impressive because it wasn't bowled on a fresh lane condition. Alley Oops competes in a league that starts at 8:30 p.m., after a league has already rolled at 6 p.m.
"We never know what the lane condition is going to be like when we bowl," he said. "That's always a challenge. We have to figure out the condition as quickly as possible and make the necessary adjustments."
Laughman said once team members start striking, it becomes infectious.
"It's a lot of fun when everyone is striking," he said. "You don't want to be the guy not to strike."
Can Alley Oops improve upon its 3,013 match?
"Getting to 3,000 is difficult," Wolfram said. "But, we do have a lot of potential."
Laughman is more convinced than Wolfram that the team could improve its record.
"All I have to do is keep the ball out of the gutter," he said.
Reach Barry Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanner Laughman 248 233 216 695
Eric Smith 241 290 279 810
Jacob Hawkins 233 254 226 713
Paul Wolfram 279 237 279 795