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Negaunee Oldtimers hold off Marquette

NEGAUNEE – They may be a step slow and sport gray hair, but the Marquette and Negaunee Oldtimers still have a competitive flair.

“I’m still competitive. I don’t like to lose,” Gerry Pirkola, 70, of Negaunee said after his team beat visiting Marquette 10-6 Wednesday at LaCombe Field.

“It still has to be fun, but you play to win.”

Pirkola rapped out three hits and drove in two runs to spark Negaunee, which holds a 21-16 series lead.

Fred Vanluven added two hits and three RBIs as the home team out hit Marquette 17-8.

Reuven Romback, 75, of Negaunee, likes the camaraderie the series brings, but still gets fired up when his team hits the diamond.

“I’m definitely competitive – I’ve been competitive all my life,” he said.

“You’re out here to have fun, but you play to win, especially against Marquette.”

Negaunee controlled the game, but had to withstand a late Marquette rally that saw four runners cross the plate in the final (seventh) inning.

“We dug a hole from the get-go,” said Marquette’s Leo Smith, 64, who knocked in three runs in the last inning with a bases-loaded triple. “We gave up some easy runs early, though Negaunee earned most of its runs.

“I was due (on that triple). I just wanted to get the barrel of the bat on any pitch close to the plate. I managed to find a gap (to right-center).”

To that point, Negaunee had dominated, taking a 10-2 lead as 13 of the team’s 17 batters recorded at least one hit.

“We have a good team, with good hitters and good pitching,” Romback said.

Negaunee broke the game open with a five-run third inning, highlighted by an RBI-double to deep center by Romback that complemented run-scoring singles by Mike Nelson, Vanluven and Pirkola.

Negaunee added two runs in the fifth on a Vanluven double and two more in the sixth behind RBI singles by Pirkola and Andy Dellangelo.

Jerry Nobert of Marquette had hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the sixth to set the stage for his team’s late rally attempt.

“Look at all the runners we left on base (13),” Smith lamented.

Gary Anderson took the mound win. In 5.2 innings, he allowed just one run on four hits and six walks while striking out six.

Eugene Menapace shouldered the loss. He gave up four runs on 11 hits and one walk over four innings of work.

Roger Dougherty posted two hits for Marquette.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228- 2500, ext. 251.