The Cecil-Harford 700 Club Tournament -- the Strikeline Pro Shop Open -- at Forest Hill Lanes last month came down to the last ball.
"If you wanted excitement in your matches, the final game was as exciting as you can get," said Chuck Dippenworth, club tournament director. "It came down not only to the final frame, but to the last ball of the match."
Bruce Hollen and Greg Maggard have been bowling for more than a few years, and the fact that they were bowling in this tournament is evidence of their skills on the lanes.
Only tenpin bowlers who have posted 700 sets were invited to the four-game qualifier and stepladder-format event, which drew 37 entries.
Hollen and Maggard locked in a duel for the tournament crown.
"I had a double up in the eighth and ninth frames; if I throw another strike I can lock up the game," Hollen said as the action unfolded.
The ball was in the pocket, but the left-handed Hollen left the seven-pin. "If I make the spare and count a strike it still shuts the door," Hollen said.
But again a single pin stood. Maggard needed a triple to tie the game.
"I really thought that I needed just a double," Maggard said.
Hollen said, "Greg plastered the first two strikes. I was sure that he was going to throw the third one for the tie."
When Maggard looked around after the first two strikes, he was startled to see a friend, John Kanenik, holding up 10 fingers.
"That's when I knew I needed another strike," Maggard said.
It wasn't to be, the last ball was a little high and left the baby split.
Final score: Hollen 214, Maggard 212.
Hollen, an Upper Falls resident, started rolling a duckpin ball when he was 2 1/2 years old.
"My dad drilled holes in the duckpin ball for me," Hollen said. "And I haven't been very far from a bowling lane since."
Switching to tenpins at Brunswick Crown Lanes, he has concentrated on that game and today carries a PBA card.
With an average of 207, he bowls in just one league, the Monday Classic at Country Club Lanes.
"I try to bowl in as many [PBA] regional events as I can," he said. "Last year I made six tournaments." He won the Orange, N.J., stop and made the finals at Greenway Bowl Odenton.
He has 14 300 games.
"It seems like I throw about one each year, but I can't seem to throw more than one a year," he said. "Three-hundreds are nice, but I'm more proud of the back-to-back 800 sets I threw in the Crown Doubles league in 1987."
They were an 801 and an 803; his career-high series is 832.
Maggard started bowling when he was 9 years old; he laid off when he was 22 and returned to the lanes three years ago.
The Bowley's Quarters resident bowls in the Monday Classic league at Country Club Lanes and the Friday Industrial league at Brunswick Crown in Middle River.
Last season he finished with a 207 average, and he owns a 300 game and an 805 series.
"Gail [his wife] got me started bowling again," he said. "And after a five-year layoff, it was like starting over, but it's a game I really enjoy. I'm pretty much self-taught, but sometimes my dad will notice something I'm doing wrong, but I've never really had a coach."
He doesn't use a reactive resin bowling ball, staying with his 16-pound Blue and Pink Hammers and a Phantom.
In the qualifying round of the 700 club tournament, he was plus-73 pins as the second seed. The first seed went to Hollen's plus-205 pins.
If you'd like to catch this kind of action, the next Cecil-Harford 700 Club Tournament, the Bowlers Alley Pro Shop Open, is today at Fair Lanes Edgewood.
Randy Ruckman of The Bowlers Alley Pro Shop is donating a $20 gift certificate for the top five qualifiers. Check-in time is 9:45 a.m.