Some incredible duckpin matchups have occurred in recent tournaments, with several excellent scores posted.
The final 1991 stop on theDuckpin Professional Bowlers Association was at Fair Lanes Middlesexin Baltimore County for the Fair Lanes Men's Master Tournament last month.
Sweede Lavers of Stratford, Conn., won the $5,000 first prize, but the best match of the day was the cliffhanger between two Carroll County bowlers in the semifinals: John Schramm of Westminster and Jim Hogue of Eldersburg.
Jim Hogue is a mechanic for Miller Brothers Chevrolet in Howard County and, in 1990-1991, his 147 average ranked him 17th in the nation. Hogue has a high game of 226 and a high seriesof 558 and has been bowling for 21 of his 34 years.
John Schramm,with a 151 average, is president of the Duckpin Professional BowlersAssociation and has posted a high game of 246 with high 579 series.
"What I like the most about duckpin bowling is the competitiveness," Schramm said in an earlier interview. "The level of play in the tournaments is very high and you have to make a great effort when you bowl against this caliber of bowler."
That was true in the Master Tournament. Let Jim Hogue tell the story.
"John Schramm came out ofthe gate fast. He's bowling really well and by the middle of the game I was about 18 pins down.
"I threw a double with a nine-count that could have been the third strike, but the ten pin wouldn't fall. That makes the match pretty close but I couldn't quite catch John."
He came darn close, though. The final score: John Schramm 194, Jim Hogue 193.
Pretty tough to get any tighter than that.
But Jim Reisberg of Sykesville and Eddie Dowling managed to do it in the final game of the Open Handicap Classic of the Amateur Duckpin Tour at FairLanes Westview in Baltimore County two weeks ago.
Reisberg, described by Joe Rineer of Mount Airy Lanes as "very steady," bowls in theWednesday Majors at Mount Airy and last year was ranked 10th in nation with a 148 average. His high game is 237; his high set, 554.
Just how close was this game? The scratch score was exactly the same, adead tie at 128 each.
"I think Jim did it on purpose," Rineer joked, "because, remember, this was a handicap tournament. Jim Hogue's handicap was three pins and that three pins made Jim the winner."
Carroll residents collected plenty of medals at the Maryland Special Olympics bowling competition Sunday.
In the duckpin competition, Greg Allen and Megan Roland captured gold medals, Kelly Sullivan earned a silver and Tori Eshelman, Jennifer DeBoy and Amy Dietrich captured bronze medals. Adam Dunn placed fourth in the duckpin competition, which was at Fair Lanes Owings Mills in Baltimore County.
Jennifer Bauman and William Matthews were gold medal winners in ten pins,which took place at Fair Lanes King's Point in Randallstown, Baltimore County, and Doris Drewanz captured a bronze.
C.R. Staub was fifth in ten pins and Bruce Martz, Brian Peeling and James Norton were seventh-place winners.
Gail Ridgely of Sykesville bowls with the Alley Cats team with Danny Yingling at Fair Lanes Owings Mills.
Ridgley carries a 118 average with a high game of 181 and a high setof 429, so she knows how difficult it for the causal bowler to throwa 200 game.
"I thought it was fantastic that Danny (Yingling) could throw a game with only one open frame," she said.
Yingling lives in Hampstead and has a 132 average with a high set of 503 and a career high game of 218.
But the 200 that the pressman for the Printing Post threw Nov. 26 in the Epworth League was something special.
For one thing, Yingling only bowls one night a week, and even thoughhe's been bowling duckpins for half of his 30 years, it's still difficult to bowl well when your bowling is restricted to a single night a week.
What made the 200 so special?
"I had to have a strike on the last ball to hit the 200 on the nose," Yingling said. "Had to have it. So I just threw the ball down the middle -- and hoped."
Itworked beautifully as all ten pins went into the pit and Yingling had his 200 game.
"I love duckpins," Yingling said. "You never know what's going to happen from week-to-week. Just two weeks after I threw the 200, I had a hard time breaking 300 for three games."
Maybe Rich Lippy of Westminster has the answer to that problem.
"Can't lose your concentration," Lippy said. "When you're going good, the game's easy. When you're going bad, only concentration will get youback on track."
Lippy, a machinist for Wingard & Co., bowls in the Sunday Evening Mixed and a Tuesday night league at Thunderhead Lanes in Westminster. He carries a 132 average with a high game of 214 and a high set of 477.
That concentration last month brought home another 200 game in the Sunday Evening Mixed League Nov. 17 and it was just like Yingling's game, 200 on the nose.
That's all it take, folks, to get that 200 duckpin game: concentration and throw the ball down the middle.
A little hope can't hurt.