Jeremy Drye had no plans to bowl in leagues this season. He didn’t see how he would be able to squeeze it in with his work schedule.
Then Mike Dunham sent Drye a message and asked if he would like to bowl in the Sportsman’s league on Wednesday nights at Janesville’s El-Ra Bowl.
“I said, ‘I don’t know, who all is in?’” Drye said.
Dunham told Drye he was captain of a team called Bazinga’s that included Steve Tabbert, Rick Lewin and Josh Ward.
Drye was in.
“When he told me who the team was, I was like, ‘Absolutely. I’m never going to get to bowl on a team like this ever again,’” Drye said. “We knew sooner or later, we always kept talking amongst ourselves that there was just going to be a night where we all just put everything together.
“Last Wednesday night was it.”
Tabbert, Ward, Drye, Dunham and Lewin rewrote the South Central Wisconsin USBC Association five-man record book.
They opened their night with a 1,358 game, smashing the old mark by 36 pins.
And then they kept momentum rolling, finishing off a series of 3,799 and broke a 10-year-old record by 76 pins.
“When you’re bowling on a five-man team and you look up in the seventh or eighth frame and there’s only two non-strikes, that’s pretty cool,” Lewin said. “I’m been there a few times over the years and am fortunate enough to have been on some really good teams. And this is one of the best I’ve ever bowled on.”
Lewin knows a thing or two about Southern Central Wisconsin USBC records. He was also on the team that set the four-man record for high series with a 2,945 back in 2005. Lewin said he was also part of the first team that bowled an 1,100 game, the first that ever bowled a 1,200 and the first that ever bowled a 1,300.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to have a lot of guys on my teams that are really good bowlers,” Lewin said. “It’s kind of sad I was the low man on the team (Wednesday). But I hit my average, so I guess that was OK.”
Every player shot at least a 268 in the first, record-setting game. Dunham, Drye and Lewin each opened their games with spares, but Tabbert closed out the first frame with a strike.
All five bowlers had a strike in each of the next five frames. They would have gone a sixth if not for a split from Ward—his only non-strike of the game.
“At one point, we had 27 strikes in a row as a team,” Drye said. “I was just telling myself, don’t be the one to mess this up. Take a deep breath, visualize and make sure you make a good shot.”
Tabbert struck in each of the first nine frames before closing with a nine-spare and a strike Both he and Drye shot 279, while Dunham and Lewin each shot 269 and Ward had a 268.
Lewin said the combination of so many years of experience and having a mix of ages gives the Bazinga’s team the chance to be special. Lewin is the elder statesman at 62, and he used to have a healthy rivalry bowling against the father of Drye, who is 33.
“Everybody on the team has been an avid bowler for most of their adult lives,” Lewin said. “Everybody on the team has had high scores and shot 300 games, so there isn’t a whole lot of pressure.”
On the contrary, after the first game, Drye said the bowlers looked at each other and said they needed to go after the series record.
And in the second game, the team was back in record territory once again. Both Tabbert and Drye put up 279 for the second straight game, while Ward had a 289 to help the team shoot 1,301.
Lewin said players are dialed in right now for the stretch run of the season and some of the bigger area, state and national tournaments.
Nobody was more dialed in last Wednesday than Tabbert, the team’s anchor bowler who finished with an 804 series. Tabbert holds the local association record for highest average in a season, carrying a 244 average in 2011-12.
Tabbert’s 246 was the team’s high score in the third and final game. Bazinga’s shot 1,140 as a team to finish at 3,799. Ward finished with a 792 series, while Drye finished at 773, Dunham at 755 and Lewin at 675.
“It was pretty crazy. Probably the best team that I’ve ever bowled on by far, and probably one of the best teams I’ll ever get to bowl on,” Drye said. “There’s always someone there to help you when you need maybe a little tip on what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it.
“It’s definitely very special for me to be on a team like that, with these guys that already have records. To get a chance to possibly be part of one was unbelievable.