The back row of pins on a bowling lane - the 7 through 10 pins - are the key to carrying strikes for the best of bowlers.
Perfect hits in the strike pocket invariably carry out the head through 6 pins, though occasionally I've seen a 4-pin stand and much less frequently a 6-pin stay up on a seemingly perfect hit for righthanders.
Ground zero for getting tapped is the 10-pin for righties and maybe even more common, the 7-pin for lefthanders - I always joke that those 7s that lefties leave are the only thing that give us righties a chance against them.
So a pair of Marquette-area righthanders had to be a bit disappointed when a 7-pin for one and the 8-pin for the other stopped their bids for a perfect 300 game on the last ball at Superior Lanes.
On Sept. 27, Mike Musolf, 51, left an 8-pin on the 12th ball for a 299 game during the Friday 800 Mixed League using a 15-pound DV8 brand reactive resin ball.
"That last shot was nine pins in the pit," Musolf told me last week in describing what is his first 299 after achieving 300 each of the previous three times he got to that last ball.
Musolf, who among his jobs is a mechanic at the Marquette Township center, rolled the 299 in his second game as he shot 770 for night.
Four days later, Fred Nees, 69, of Harvey bowled the same game in the Tuesday Night Mixed League at Superior, leaving a 7-pin on the final ball of his opening game.
He added 217 and 244 for 760 that night using his 15-pound Morich Total Shock and Awe reactive resin ball.
"I hung up in the thumb a little bit on that last ball," Nees told me, describing how the ball hit the 1-3 strike pocket a bit light but swished about four pins around the 7-pin, though none of them would take out the lonely sentinel.
By my count, Nees has had four 300s, the most recent not quite four years ago.