Allen DePew, Tim Smetzer, Devon Tolan

Tim Smetzer, left, Devon Tolan, center, and Allen DePew all bowled 300 at Quonset Lanes on Aug. 21.

Three strikes are usually the end of an at-bat in baseball.

But there weren’t any strikeouts when Allen DePew, Tim Smetzer and Devon Tolan rolled during opening week of Wednesday Classic League play at Quonset Lanes in Crystal City on Aug. 21.

In rapid-fire succession, Smetzer, Tolan and DePew all bowled strikes in their last frame of the second game, and all three finished with a perfect score of 300.

Angie Crady has been the manager of the Quonset for nine years and has worked there for 15. Crady said it’s the first time she’s seen three 300s in one night. That night, there were about 50 bowlers in the men’s league and 64 in the mixed league. A lot of people witnessed the action.

“I’ve seen two in one night, but never three,” Crady said. “I was sitting in the office and I heard people screaming. I didn’t know what was going on. Was there a fight going on? It all happened within a minute.”

DePew of Festus has been bowling for 50 years. He has an average over 200 and said he’s bowled a perfect game at least 30 times, many of them at Quonset. Still, DePew modestly said there are a lot of bowlers who are better than he is.

The Classic League runs from late August to mid-April.

“I’m older so it gives you time to build them up,” DePew said of his perfect games.

“Tim bowled his first. Devon and I were anchors and I let him bowl first on the last frame. He shot his right after Tim. When somebody gets a strike in front of you, it always motivates you because you don’t want to be the one missing.”

A week after bowling 300, DePew scored 296 on Aug. 28, leaving just the 2-pin and 8-pin upright during his second game. Two weeks into the season and he’s literally on a roll.

“It’s a feel you have when you get on a roll,” DePew said. “You’ve got luck at times. Sometimes you miss the pocket and they carry anyway. Seldom they’re flush. Most of time there’s a shot where you get a break to help you get there. Once you get the first (strike) you’re not as worried about it.

“When you get in that groove, you take advantage of it. There’s times that nothing carries and you don’t feel right or the lane conditions aren’t right.”

DePew used a 16-pound ball when he rolled 300. That weight is the maximum weight a ball can be in league play. He said it’s not the weight of the ball that matters as much as how many revolutions it makes when it screams down the alley toward the pins. The pocket is between the head pin and the No. 3 pin.

Tolan also lives in Festus. He graduated from Crystal City and Fontbonne University and teaches second grade at Festus Elementary School. This was Tolan’s second 300 in league play, but he said he’s got at least 17 more bowling on his own. He’s been going to Quonset for 12 years.

“I’ve had it go both ways. Some lanes match up with styles better,” Tolan said. “Bowling 300 is more luck than skill. You have to have the pins on your side.”

Before the three rattled off their 300s in succession, Tolan, who also averages better than 200, said the lanes were quiet.

“After the 300s were rolled it got louder between each one,” he said. “I was talking to Allen and he said he had never seen this.”

The other standard for bowling is scoring 800 over three games.

“It’s more meaningful. It’s harder to get,” DePew said.

DePew and Smetzer also bowl in tournaments for the Festus-Crystal City Elks Club. Smetzer, also of Festus, said it was his fourth time bowling 300 and the first since 2016. He’s been bowling for 45 years.

“The last ball was a little bit wide. I didn’t figure it would happen,” Smetzer said. “I know how the pins fall and it’s very rare to go that far.”

A week after his perfect game, Smetzer rolled up eight straight strikes before finishing with 278. His average is well above 200 right now, but he will probably be around that number by the end of the season. He said he’s not even the best bowler on his team.

“Bowling’s a challenge. I feel I’m decent enough to shoot decent games,” Smetzer said. “You try for perfection, and once in a while it comes around.”

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