Jake Wallasch knew that winning Game 1 was going to be crucial for the Smithtown boys bowling team.
But perhaps he didn’t realize just how important Game 1 would wind up being, until the end of the match.
“I felt that the best way that we were going to win the match is if we destroyed them in the first game,” the Smithtown East senior said. “The more pins we take in the first the better. This way as we get toward the end, we can have more room for error.”
In Tuesday night’s match, there was little room for error.
Wallasch rolled nine strikes in a 266 in Game 1 of a 698 series, to lead Smithtown past Middle Country on total pins, 3,249-3,237, in a Suffolk III match at AMF Smithtown Lanes.
After winning Game 1, 1,235-1,156, the Bulls looked like the stronger team. However, Middle Country turned the tables and bested Smithtown, 1,096-1,051 in Game 2, and 985-963 in Game 3. Despite losing two of three games, Smithtown finished with 12 more pins and won the match.
“I can’t say enough about all of these bowlers,” Smithtown coach Rob Aplin said. “They keep on battling, keep on grinding, and find their shots. For us to lose two games and still walk away with 20 match points, it’s tremendous.”
Smithtown East senior Eric Bholan, who ranks second in the county with a 227.7 average, had eight strikes in a 224 in Game 3 of a 681 series.
“Having the top average in the county was a goal for me going into this year,” Bholan said. I knew that I would have a shot at it, but it’s more of a side note now.”
Robert Clemente (Smithtown East) added a 235 in Game 1 and a 244 in Game 2 of a 653 series. Newfield’s Thomas Lettich rolled the high game of the match, throwing 10 consecutive strikes to close out a 279 in Game 1 for Middle Country. Lettich totaled a 686 series, the second highest of the night.
With the county tournament more than a week away (Feb. 3), the Bulls know they have to put any personal desires aside, if they want make it to the state tournament.
“The most important thing is getting this team up to states,” Bholan said. “If we throw our best shots, we will go to states as a team and that would be so much more fun than being an All-Star.”
“The only way we are going to make it far is if we do this together,” Wallasch said. “If we are doing this for ourselves as individuals, we aren’t going to get anywhere.”