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Oldtimers softball rekindles rivalries, with Negaunee leading the way this summer

The Negaunee Oldtimers won three of four games this summer to lay claim to the unofficial title as Marquette County’s best. From left are team members Larry Bluse, Steve Wills, Mike Rivard, Rueven Romback, Dale Luokkala, Andy Prusi, Fred Sterk, Terry Hill, Steve Parkkonen, manager Don Trudell, Andy Dellangelo, Gary Anderson, Don Williams and Dave Savolainen. (Photo courtesy Roland Koski)

NEGAUNEE — The Negaunee entry into Oldtimers softball wants to lay claim to an unofficial title as champions of Marquette County after winning three of four games this summer against teams from Marquette and Gwinn.

In the season finale, Negaunee outscored Gwinn 11-5 on Aug. 31. That came after Negaunee opened with a 5-3 home loss to Marquette on July 7, followed by a Negaunee win of 7-3 in Gwinn on July 22 and a Negaunee victory of 12-7 in Marquette on Aug. 12.

Marquette and Gwinn split their two games, so Negaunee finished with a 3-1 record, Marquette 2-2 and Gwinn 1-3 in the home-and-home format.

Oldtimers softball in this area is fastpitch and open to players ages 62 and over. The main rule change from regular fastpitch is no sliding into bases is allowed.

These games were canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Negaunee publicist Roland “Foo” Koski said players were eager to get back on the diamond again.

In the Aug. 31 game between Negaunee and Gwinn at LaCombe Field, the home team jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning off Gwinn pitcher Dave Derouin. Negaunee used four “seeing-eye” singles and a bases-loaded double by Terry Hill.

Back-to-back three-run innings in the fourth and fifth extended Negaunee’s lead to 11-2. RBI hits by Don Williams and winning hurler Andy Prusi followed two singles and a walk in the fourth, while Prusi smacked a two-run single in the fifth after three earlier hits and a walk.

Gwinn’s Derouin doubled and Loran Reetz singled him home in the second, while Jay Norman socked an RBI double in the fourth.

The dinner bell must’ve been ringing in Negaunee in the top of the seventh as the home team committed four errors that lead to three Gwinn runs, with two coming home on a single by Gary Rautio.

Prusi and Negaunee teammates Larry Bluse, Mark Rivard and Andy Dellangelo each had two hits as the team’s first five batters combined for nine runs and nine of the team’s 13 hits.

Derouin, Norman, Rautio and Jerry Zaborowski had two hits apiece for the visitors as Negaunee now has a 13-6 series lead dating back to 2008.

Here’s some details from earlier Negaunee games:

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Marquette 5, Negaunee 3

In a game held during Negaunee’s Pioneer Days celebration, Marquette scored four runs in the top of the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit. Key hits from Fred Hume and Dave Norbert combined with four walks in the rally.

Hume finished with two hits as the visitors were outhit 11-6, since Negaunee stranded 11 baserunners.

That included in the bottom of the sixth, when the home team loaded the bases on three straight hits but didn’t make a dent on the scoreboard.

Mike Rivord, Fred Sterk and Gary Anderson each had two hits for Negaunee.

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Negaunee 7, Gwinn 3

In the game played in Gwinn in mid-July, Negaunee broke open a pitcher’s duel with a five-run fifth to take a 7-1 lead.

The big rally featured six hits, and for the game, Dellangelo had two hits including a homer and scored twice. Rivord and winning hurler Dan Niemi added two hits each as Niemi registered eight strikeouts on the rubber.

Zaborowski and Jay Norman had two hits apiece for Gwinn.

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Negaunee 12, Marquette 7

In Negaunee’s biggest offensive explosion of the summer at Hurley Field in Marquette during mid-August, both teams piled up the hits as Negaunee held a slim 16-14 advantage.

Negaunee’s victory ended Marquette’s seven-game winning streak in the teams’ series as Marquette now holds a 25-24 advantage in the all-time series dating to 1998.

Negaunee erased a 3-2 deficit after one inning with six runs in the second, then tacked on another four runs in the top of the sixth to make it 12-4.

In the second, Negaunee bunched up six hits and a walk, while in the sixth, Rivard cracked a three-run homer.

The visitors’ top four hitters combined for 10 hits and eight runs as Bluse and Dale Luokkala each had three hits and Sterk and Rivord added two apiece.

The home team used five hits in their three-run first-inning rally, but could’ve had more after the inning ended with the bases loaded.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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