NEGAUNEE - "Bea" Parolini was just the voice of experience that a Negaunee softball team needed Wednesday afternoon.
With several of its regulars out, Negaunee relied on its oldest player, Parolini - whose nickname is pronounced "BEE-yuh" - to get his team's first hit in the west enders' 13-5 victory over Marquette at LaCombe Field in Negaunee.
So what if this was an Oldtimers softball game where being older usually means you can't run as well as you used to?
Marquette Oldtimers' Stan Taube hits the ball during the second inning against Negaunee on Wednesday afternoon at LaCombe Field in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
The 78-year-old Parolini legged out a single to start off Negaunee's four-run fourth inning that erased the visitors' 1-0 lead.
And this came from a man who had hip replacement surgery two years ago and was struggling to run on Wednesday.
"Bea got our first hit, and from there, everybody else starting hitting," said teammate Edsel Syrjala, a second-year Oldtimers players at the relatively youthful age of 63.
"Especially when it's the oldest guy on our team, maybe everybody else wanted to show they were worth their salt, too."
Parolini was happy to lead the way.
"It just takes the pressure off when you can start hitting and scoring," he said.
Though he didn't look totally thrilled about it, Parolini allowed himself to be replaced with a courtesy runner after he reached base in the fourth and fifth innings.
"Yeah, we had somebody who could run pretty well, so let them do it," Parolini said of teammate Jim Ghiardi, who scored Negaunee's first run a few batters after he took Bea's place on base on a single by Hank St. Aubin.
Later in the fourth, No. 10 batter John Savolainen laced a double to left field to knock in two runs.
Steve Parkkonen pitched all seven innings to get the win, scattering eight hits, four of them in the final inning, while walking six and striking out seven.
There was just one error committed in this cleanly played game that was close until Negaunee broke it open with nine runs in the sixth, the big blows a long, two-run triple by Savolainen and a bloop, bases-clearing double by Parkkonen.
Marquette's Ron Krieg, 78, who split time between catching and right field, said he was still glad to take part in the games that are now in their 16th year.
"We still had fun," he said, "but you sure notice the difference from the time you're the (Oldtimers minimum age of) 62 or 63 and 15 years later."
His brother, Richard "Red" Krieg, 82, manages the Marquette team and can play in an emergency.
He said that Negaunee now has a 16-15 lead in the series as he is working on getting a return engagement at Marquette's Hurley Field, most likely in early August.
Marquette got its early run when Jerry Nobert walked, moved to second on a hit batsman and scored on a double by Joe Stupsky.
The visitors drew closer in the top of the seventh with four more runs, the climatic hit a two-run single by Tom Sullivan with two outs.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.