HAMMOND | It wasn't long ago that 300 games were something of a rarity in the Times/Pepsi Classic, but those days are gone.
Leroy Johnson, a 57-year-old former professional bowler from Chicago, bowled not one but two consecutive perfect games in the tournament's opening day.
Highland teen Tyler Trombetta posted his own 300, as cheers rang out from the other side of Olympia Lanes seconds after they'd subsided from Johnson's second perfect game.
Johnson rolled 26 consecutive strikes, including the first two frames of his third game, before leaving the seven pin in the third frame.
"It's always good to win things," he said. "I've been bowling for 48 years. Maybe it's finally coming together."
Johnson, who has two PBA regional tournament titles, has never bowled back-to-back 300s. He's qualified for match-play in the Classic twice before and will be bowling in Class SA this year. He turned in an 825 series Saturday.
"I had a nice line and I was able to execute pretty well. The shots carried and everything worked out pretty well," Johnson said. "It was a lot of fun. I'm glad I did it in a tournament setting where it will help move me to the next round."
Johnson is fresh off winning the Elkhart Team Challenge with his team "1 of Each" last week at County Club Lanes.
Trombetta was bowling with extra emotion, visible in his celebration after each strike. His grandmother Reggie Trombetta passed away a few months ago.
He wore a shirt with a haloed "Reggie" emblazoned over his heart and his grandfather Joe was there for advice and support.
"She was my inspiration. Me and my grandpa, that's why we bowl is for her," the 16-year-old said. "Lately, I get more emotional because every time I bowl, I bowl to win and it's for her."
Trombetta, a member of the Highland High School boys bowling team, put together a 723 series in Class A. His 300 came in his third game.
"I knew I had a throw-away game. I was really set on trying to play straight up the boards today, but that obviously wasn't there," he said. "I found (the line) in the 10th frame of my second game."