In the seventh frame, the right-handed Mandel hooked a shot cleanly into the pocket . . . and left the 7-10 split.
“The other night, that would have carried [for a strike],” said Mandel with a smile.
“The other night” was exactly two months ago when Mandel put together an effort that he admitted was nothing short of “surreal.”
Mandel was averaging 202 in his “Viva Las Vegas” league when he put together a series that most top pros will never match. He rolled games of 277, 278 and 290 for a remarkable 845 series – one of the most notable highlights of the 2013 bowling season in the San Fernando Valley.
“Looking back,” Mandel said, “it was surreal. ‘Is that me who was doing that?’ It was incredible. I still can’t believe it."
There’s a plaque that now hangs above Lanes 31 and 32 at Woodlake Lanes commemorating Mandel’s achievement. He had no opens and 32 strikes in his series. After a spare in the first frame of the final game, he finished with 11 strikes.
“I’m still claiming ‘being in the zone and luck,’ ” said Mandel, explaining his first 800 series. His previous best series was a 763. So Mandel eclipsed his best series by a staggering 82 pins.
He missed the head pin on his first shot only in the third frame of the first game, leaving the 1-3-9, which he converted. “He had one bad shot and all the others were perfect,” teammate Shawn Azar said.
Mandel, who will turn 62 on Thursday, hasn’t slacked off since his milestone series. He’s carrying a 218 average in his “Viva Las Vegas” league.
“I’m continuing on a roll,” said Mandel, who acknowledged that he doesn’t expect to bowl anywhere close to an 845 again. “I’m shooting better than I ever have in my life.”
Mandel remains hopeful that one day, he’ll find that “zone” again and bowl his first perfect game. He’s bowled for more than 50 years and three times he’s knocked out 11 straight strikes in a game.
“If it  doesn’t happen before I’m 65, it never will. So I have three years,” said Mandel, a former baseball standout for Valley College and Cal State Northridge.
But even if he doesn’t bowl that elusive 300, Mandel knows he’s already accomplished something special. An 800 series is widely considered superior to a perfect game because of its sustained excellence over three games -- and Mandel scored 45 pins over that.
“It’s my claim to fame,” Mandel said.