ARLINGTON, Texas - Prior to lacing up for league Friday evening at Strike N Spare II in Lockport, Ill., Sam Esposito of Homer Glen, Ill., had two United States Bowling Congress-certified 300 games to his credit.
By the end of the night, the 26-year-old right-hander added three more perfect games to his collection on his way to becoming the 31st bowler to roll a 900 series.
Esposito connected on 36 consecutive strikes during the Friday Classic league at Strike N Spare II to join Andrew Mank of Belleville, Ill., as the second bowler from Illinois to achieve the score. Mank recorded his 900 series in March 2010.
After getting through the first two games, Esposito relied on his teammates and friends to keep the pressure at bay as he continued to get closer to having a perfect evening.
"After I got the second one, I thought if I could get the first few strikes of Game 3, I would be able to shake some of the nerves and have a chance at doing it," said Esposito, who had two 800 series with a high of 822 prior to Friday's performance. "My friends and teammates were trying to keep me calm, talking about work and keeping my mind off of what was happening."
Upon arriving to the 10th frame, Esposito stuck to the process that already had got him 33 consecutive strikes to start his set and was unfazed by his surroundings.
"I knew I had a chance to do something that very few people get the opportunity to do, and my mind kind of went blank," Esposito said. "I just wanted to do the same thing that had worked all night, not change a thing and let my body take over.
"All 38 lanes had stopped, and you could've heard a pin drop. There was absolute silence, and everybody was watching."
Despite the final shot getting right of target, the result for Esposito was the same as he entered the record books.
Esposito was greeted at the foul line after the final shot by friends and teammates, and he's appreciative of the bowling community for getting to share in the experience.
"I was worried about the final shot," Esposito said. "I got it right from where I was all night but luckily it came back and struck. I took a big, deep breath afterwards and said thank you. I got tackled by everybody, but that was amazing. It honestly still hasn't hit me that I shot three perfect games in a row. I'm still in shock, but to have everybody cheering for me and congratulating me was amazing. It shows what a great bowling community we have, and it was special to be able to share that with everybody."
Esposito's achievement is pending approval from USBC and would be the 32nd USBC-approved 900.
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Nebraska.
USBC-Approved 900 Series (32)
Jeremy Sonnenfeld (R), Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 2, 1997
Tony Roventini (L), Greenfield, Wis., Nov. 9, 1998
Vince Wood (R), Moreno Valley, Calif., Sept, 29, 1999
Robby Portalatin (L), Jackson, Mich., Dec. 28, 2000
James Hylton (R), Salem, Ore., May 2, 2001
Jeff Campbell II (R), New Castle, Pa., June 12, 2004
Darin Pomije (R), New Prague, Minn., Dec. 9, 2004
Robert Mushtare (R), Fort Drum, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2005 and Feb. 19, 2006
Lonnie Billiter Jr. (R), Fairfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2006
Mark Wukoman (R), Greenfield, Wis., April 22, 2006
P.J. Giesfeldt (R), Milwaukee, Dec. 23, 2006
Rich Jerome Jr. (R), Baltimore, Dec. 22, 2008
Chris Aker (L), Winnemucca, Nev., Oct. 30, 2009
Andrew Teall (R), Medford, N.J., Nov. 2, 2009
Andrew Mank (R), Belleville, Ill., March 18, 2010
William Howell III (L), Middletown, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2010
Matt Latarski (R), Medina, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2010
Bob Kammer Jr. (R), Crown Point, Ind., Jan. 8, 2011
John Martorella Sr. (R), Greece, N.Y., April 12, 2012
Jimmy Schmitzer (R), Riverside, Calif., April 20, 2012
James Williams (R), Pawcatuck, Conn., (bowled in Wakefield, R.I.), April 16, 2013
Joe Scarborough (R), Charlotte, N.C., (bowled in The Villages, Fla.), April 21, 2013
Todd James (R), East New Market, Md., (bowled in Laurel, Del.), March 18, 2014
Amos Gordon (R), Colorado Springs, Colo., April 11, 2014
Earon Vollmar (R), Toledo, Ohio, Jan. 19, 2015
Hakim Emmanuel (R), Stoughton, Mass., Feb. 19, 2015
David Sewesky (L), Dearborn, Mich., Jan. 10, 2016
Dale Gerhard (R), Mill Hall, Pa., Jan. 12, 2016
Sean Osbourn (R), Houston, Nov. 21, 2016
John Buchanan III (R), Evansville, Ind., Jan. 11, 2017
Sam Esposito (R), Homer Glen, Ill., Feb. 3, 2017**
** Pending formal approval by the United States Bowling Congress.
For more information on USBC records, visit BOWL.com/Records.