SPRING HILL — It all began with a 300.
That was nothing new for Jay Lynch, who had thrown five previous perfect games. In fact, the veteran bowler had already tossed four 800 series, so he was no stranger to success.
But this time Lynch's perfect game would lead to something different. He would end up somewhere he'd never been before.
He finished that Wednesday evening with an 855 series, tying the highest three-game total ever achieved at Spring Hill Lanes.
"When it was over, I was relieved and shocked at the same time," Lynch said. "It was much easier when I started to have fun and get into the flow of the game."
Lynch, 31, a native of North Attleboro, Mass., moved to Spring Hill in 2002. He has been competing on the lanes since age 8, but he reached new heights when he and his family moved to Florida.
The family now lives in Port Richey, but Lynch continues to bowl at Spring Hill. And in the Kevin's Pro Shop League in mid September, he bowled the series of his life.
After a first game of 300, he couldn't have known what was coming. He started with a strike in the opening frame of Game 2, but a spare in the second frame made it look like he was coming back down to Earth. Then, he proceeded to roll nine consecutive strikes before tossing a six-count on his final ball for a 276.
"The more you get mad, the worse you bowl," Lynch said. "I went right through the nose (the head pin) on that last ball, so I walked away and concentrated on calming down."
One of the major changes Lynch has made in the past couple of years is controlling his emotions. While he has always been a good bowler, he has excelled since 2007. His average has jumped almost 20 pins in that time, from 212 to 231. Currently, his average sits at 246. He credits the improvements in large part to his ability to take mistakes in stride.
On Wednesdays, Lynch bowls with his younger brother, Greg, 25. Greg, who holds a 219 average himself, looks up to Jay and is always trying to best his older brother. On this night, however, he was nothing but supportive.
"After that second game, the thought of what kind of series I could have crossed my mind," Jay said. "Greg (and my other teammates) really helped keep me calm."
After his calming walk, Lynch came back to the lanes. He followed up the only ball he threw all night that was not in the pocket with an amazing final game of 279. The performance tied Joe Correa for the best series in Spring Hill Lanes history and put Lynch behind only Jason Mahr (878) and Rich Garner (858) in Hernando County history. Mahr and Garner both had their series at Mariner Lanes.
"(Lynch) was just in the zone that night," Spring Hill Lanes co-owner George Martins said. "When I used to see him around, I'd always call him Jay, but now I just call him 'The Machine.' "
Last season, Lynch finished with a 231 average in the Roadrunners Mixed League that meets on Tuesday nights at Spring Hill. He rolled two perfect games in 2008-09, along with an 802 series and a 290 game in 102 games. He still competes in that league, along with the Kevin's Pro Shop League this season, where he already has had two 800 series this fall.
His recent accomplishment would be enough to satisfy most, but Lynch leans on his newfound success with even greater goals. Fewer than 20 sanctioned perfect series have been completed in the 89-year history of the U.S. Bowling Congress, but that doesn't stop Lynch from setting his eyes on his next challenge.
"I am looking for a 900 series," he said. "I know I can do it if everything goes right."