Hannibal held a two-run lead before losing its grip in the sixth inning of a 5-3 loss to Fulton on Thursday at Veterans Sports Complex.

The magic ran out for the Hannibal baseball team. 

Coming off a pair of come-from-behind victories this week, Hannibal held a two-run lead before losing its grip in the sixth inning of a 5-3 loss to Fulton on Thursday at Veterans Sports Complex.

The Hornets batted through their lineup in the frame to tag the Pirates for five runs and seize control of the North Central Missouri Conference contest.

“That's just the way it goes sometimes,” Hannibal coach Daryl Zessin said. “It's a ballgame. We've got a lot of season left. They're still fired up and they know there's much more to go. But it was one that kind of slipped away.” 

The first three Fulton (8-5, 5-5 NCMC) batters collected hits to start the top of the sixth, forcing Hannibal (6-3, 6-2) starter Colton Brown from the game after an otherwise dominant outing on the mound.

The buzzing Hornets offense kept the punches coming and capitalized on a pair of Pirate errors that extended the inning. By the time Fulton senior Josh Quick smoked an RBI triple against Hannibal reliever Will Whitaker to cap the outburst, the visitors were ahead by three runs. 

“Colton did a phenomenal job on the bump and he just kind of ran out of steam,” Zessin said of his starter, who struck out five and allowed three runs (one earned) over five innings. “We pulled him out of there and we just couldn't shut the door.” 

Hannibal responded with a run in the bottom of the sixth when Lawson Rickey, who finished 2-for-3, singled and scored on an error to pull the Pirates within two.

Whitaker settled in to work around two more errors in the top of the seventh. With one out, shortstop Gabe Worthington snagged a liner and quickly tossed to second baseman Lucas Brown to beat a runner back for a double play, setting Hannibal up for its final chance. 

Chandler Moffitt led off the bottom of the seventh with a bloop single, but the 2-3-4 hitters of Hannibal's lineup went down in order to end the game.

“We'd have some runners on, but we just couldn't get things going in a timely fashion like we did the other night,” said Zessin, referring to his team's 13-12 comeback win Tuesday at Mexico.

Early in the game, Hannibal was in business. 

The home team opened up the scoring in the first inning when Whitaker hit a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Worthington.

In the third, Rickey poked a single to right field to bring home Moffitt, giving the Pirates a 2-0 edge against Fulton starter Luke Gray, who pitched the first five innings to ultimately earn the win.

The contest remained smooth-sailing for Hannibal until the fifth inning, when Fulton loaded the bases with two outs to put Brown to the test. The junior lefty struck out senior Devin Masek to keep the shutout intact.

But it only went downhill from there for Hannibal, which split its season series with Fulton after winning 3-2 on April 7. 

Hannibal is back in action at 11 a.m. on Saturday when it hosts Wentzville-Liberty.