The bowling gods are playing with Mike Carver.
That must have been the Southold High School boys bowling coach’s thought when his team’s third-game score flashed up on the scoreboard: 799.
Even Carver had to chuckle at that one. His team’s stated goal before Wednesday’s Suffolk County League IV match against Sachem was to bowl an 800 game for the first time this young season.
“That was the goal,” Southold junior Devin Toman said. “I mean, that was close.”
As for the match itself, it wasn’t close. Southold lost, 33-0, at The All Star in Riverhead. But the First Settlers closed the match on a positive note with that 799, which was 11 pins better than its previous best for the season.
“Sometimes … you set your own team goals,” Carver said. “It’s a realistic goal for our team. One more pin. But it’s good. You know what? It will keep them more hungry.”
Southold, which had opened the season with a 30-3 win over East Hampton on Nov. 26, lost to Comsewogue, 32-1, on Tuesday. The Settlers faced a formidable opponent in Sachem Wednesday. The Flaming Arrows swept the three games, 926-653, 1,027-693 and 1,040-799.
Senior Dan Chiello bowled a 618 series (189, 234, 195), junior John Clark totaled a 614 (163, 210, 241) and sophomore Nick Walker came through with a 589 (201, 173, 215). That threesome turned in some similar statistics. Clark and Chiello each knocked down 19 strikes and made seven spares while Walker had 19 strikes and six spares.
Sachem received solid scores from throughout its lineup. Sal Bellino and Matt Grimaldi had a 193 and 180, respectively, in the first game. Then substitutes Liam Beauchamp and Hunter Levine made their marks, Beauchamp with a 200 and 186 and Levine with a 210 and 203.
Southold was led by junior Matt Mullen, whose two-handed throwing style and new ball helped him to a 507 series that was topped off by a 181 third game. He put away 12 strikes and 11 spares.
“The placement of where I’m throwing the ball is different with my new ball, but overall I think I’m pretty consistent,” he said.
Mitchell Elliston added a 418 series and James Hayes had a 391. Toman brought some excitement with his career-best 214 in the third game, when he had seven strikes and three spares.
“That’s Devin,” Carver said. “Devin can be a 200 bowler.”
Southold wasn’t at full strength. Brendan Duffy had to leave the match after the first game and fellow sophomore Ben Schaeffler wasn’t available. They are two of the team’s more consistent bowlers, said Carver. “They’ve been bowling consistently in the 150s,” he said. “That could have done it [brought Southold an 800 game]. That would have done it.”
Although a team can choose from only 12 bowlers on its match roster, Southold has a large crew of 19 bowlers who show up for home matches.
For “our home games, I want to bring in everybody,” Carver said. “I’m bringing everybody so everybody can be a part of it because I have young guys that I want to stay a part of it because I want to keep building the program. We’re having a good time.”
Toman said: “We’re doing alright. We’re not bad. Everyone’s pretty good. Everyone’s got their own way of bowling and I think that’s pretty cool. We almost made our goal, so that was something.”
The Settlers didn’t reach one goal, but they achieved another by improving.
On second thought, Carver figured the Settlers were so close to 800 that it might just as well count as mission accomplished.
“Seven ninety-nine, I’m going to say we hit it,” he said. “We’re right there. We definitely improved.”
Photo caption: From left, Southold’s James Hayes, Brendan Duffy and Matt Mullen before Wednesday’s match at The All Star in Riverhead. (Credit: Bob Liepa)