Josh Porter of Arundel has rolled two perfect games at Portland’s Bayside Bowl, but his match against a professional bowler Tuesday began a bit inauspiciously.

Osku Palermaa, a two-handed bowler from Finland, opened the first game with five consecutive strikes. Porter’s first ball never touched a pin.

“I can officially say I started off my pro career with a gutter ball,” the 33-year-old Porter said with a laugh. “Then I kind of got over the nerves and settled down and did all right. I wish I had done better. But the first shot was definitely pretty nerve-wracking.”

Porter and five other local bowlers took part in the Maine Shootout, a two-day event in which amateurs compete head-to-head against members of the Professional Bowlers Association. The pros are at Bayside this week for a series of events culminating with the PBA Elias Cup this weekend.

Sixteen of the 64 bowlers entered in the single-elimination Maine Shootout advanced to Wednesday’s competition. The event wraps up with finals in the evening with $10,000 for the winner and $6,000 for the runner-up.

None of the six local bowlers advanced to Tuesday evening’s second round. Instead of winning $1,000 for doing so, they bid adieu to their $500 entry fees and prepared to bowl in Thursday night’s pro-am or go nuts at the eight-team Elias Cup competition.

“I’ll be in the crowd this weekend, probably wearing some kind of crazy outfit,” said Porter, who lost to Palermaa 220-170 and 245-154 in the best-of-three match. “I had a green mohawk last year. I actually grew my hair out, spiked it up and dyed it green.”

The Elias Cup, now in its fourth year at Bayside, draws crowds so raucous you can’t hear a pin drop. Tuesday was more subdued, save for a couple dozen bowling buds from the local house league cheering on the Mainers.

“You know it’s going to be a lopsided match in the back, but that makes it fun,” said John Furey, a 13-year professional from New Jersey matched up against Zac Louten, a 31-year-old systems engineer from Portland who had the temerity to beat Furey in their first game Tuesday morning. “This environment is super exciting. It makes it fun either way.”

Among the local bowlers, only Louten extended his match to three games. He marked in every frame of his opening 204-183 victory before falling 175-146 and 191-137 to Furey, who stumbled in Game 3 before recovering.

That first game “built up a lot of confidence,” Louten said. “I felt good. I felt like I belonged here and could compete.”

When Furey opened the third with two open frames despite not facing a split, an upset seemed possible.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the shots I needed to make,” said Louten. “I knew what I was doing wrong, but couldn’t execute. What separates people like me from the pros is they know how to make the adjustments.”

This being professional bowling, clothing, equipment and available wall space are emblazoned with logos and advertising. The tournament isn’t simply the Maine Shootout. It’s the PBA Xtra Frame Port Property Management Maine Shootout.

The other Mainers went two-and-out against the pros: Jimmy Clark of Auburn (versus the PBA’s Bill O’Neill), Joe Colcord of Portland (versus D.J. Archer), Rauno Kuusk of Portland (versus Patrick Girard) and Charlie Mitchell (versus Joe Paluszek).

Colcord was sailing along in his first game, rolling three consecutive strikes before coming up against a 7-10 split in the eighth on his way to a 237-195 loss.

“That pocket 7-10, that was a kick in the butt,” Colcord said. “It was not very kind, but that’s bowling sometimes.”

Two years ago, Clark won a first-round match before falling to the PBA’s Wes Malott.

“It’s a blast to bowl with them,” Clark said. “Unfortunately we lost, but these guys do it for a job. They’re good.”

Clark said one reason for Tuesday’s low scores is the challenging oil pattern used for the event. Oil patterns refer to how oil placed on a lane. A house league may have a more generous setup that does not impact the ball as much as a tighter pattern – with a decreased margin of error – used by professionals.

“This is a lot more challenging of a pattern than they’ve put out in the previous three years,” said Clark, who works in the Bayside pro shop. “But again, the guys who do this for a living, they bowl well and they throw good shots.”

At Bayside, Clark is known as Master Splinter. Porter is Crackerjack. Mitchell answers to Karl Hungus, Colcord to Buck Ripcord and Kuusk to Railroad. Everyone in the local house league is known more by a bowling appellation than their given name.

On this day, local knowledge turned out to be not all that helpful.

“I bowled awful,” Kuusk said. “But it was an incredible experience.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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