HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A vast number of early-season rainouts forced the Hannibal baseball team to alter its schedule and cram several North Central Missouri Conference games into a short timeframe.
That finally caught up to the Pirates.
Playing their third NCMC game in four days, the Pirates struggled in the sixth inning Thursday, allowing Fulton to score five times and ultimately earn a 5-3 victory at Veterans Field.
"Playing three games in the same week is tough on the pitching staff, especially when you're playing a team in Boonville on Monday that was state runner-up last year and then coming back with the team like Fulton, who finished fourth in the state last year," Hannibal coach Daryl Zessin said. "It really taxes you're pitching staff."
Hannibal junior left-hander Colton Brown held Fulton in check through four innings, but a 30-pitch fifth inning in which Brown had to work out of a bases-loaded jam proved to be too taxing.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the top of the sixth, Fulton (8-5, 3-5 NCMC) led off with three straight hits to chase Brown as Isaiah Pani's double scored Luke Gray to cut the Hannibal lead to 2-1.
Sophomore Will Whitaker came on in relief and was met with a single from Devon Kettner that scored Jared Peery to tie the game.
With runners at the corners, the Hornets sent Kettner on the next pitch and the throw from Kevin Campbell short hopped Gabe Worthington and went into center field. Pani scored on the error and Kettner ended up at third. He later scored on a groundout for a 5-2 advantage.
Hannibal (6-3, 6-2 NCMC) threatened in the bottom of the sixth when Lawson Rickey singled and Campbell reached on an error that scored Rickey. However, three straight strikeouts by Fulton left-hander Taylor Nelson ended the threat.
Chandler Moffitt, who had two hits, led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to give the Pirates some hope, but Pani retired the next three earn the save.
"We threw our ace on Monday against Boonville and got a great victory and then played Mexico on Tuesday in a 13-12 game," Zessin said. "We used a lot of our pitching and tonight we got as much as we could out of Colton, but I think that 30 pitch-inning in the fifth really wore him down."
The loss drops Hannibal out of a first-place tie with Boonville in the NCMC.
Fulton 5, Hannibal 3
Fulton 000 005 0--5 7 3
Hannibal 101 001 0--3 5 3
Gray, Nelson (6), Pani (7) and Pani, Hinchie (7); Brown, Whitaker (6) and Campbell, WP--Nelson. LP--Brown. S--Pani. 2B--Fulton 1 (Pani). 3B--Fulton 1 (Quick).