STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mercer baseball team fought hard all night long, but came up just short in a 5-3 loss to No. 23 Mississippi State on Friday evening in front of 1,211 fans at Dudy Noble Field.
Mercer (11-4) couldn't overcome 10 men left on base as Mississippi State (13-2) stole a season-high six bases to take home its seventh-straight victory.
The Bulldogs wasted no time getting on the board when freshman Wes Rea singled to left field to take an early 1-0 lead.
Mercer responded right back in the top of the second, when sophomore Nate Moorhouse collected an RBI on a fielder's choice to tie the game at 1-1.
Mississippi State went back in front in the bottom half of the second after sophomore Taylor Stark pulled an RBI single to left to go up by a 2-1 advantage.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the top of the fourth when junior Travis Benn crushed a solo home run, his fifth of the season, to tie the game back up at 2-2.
Bears starter Brandon Love took over from there, retiring nine-straight batters until running into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. A bases loaded walk and a fielder's choice plated two more runs for MSU to make the score 4-2.
The big inning for Mississippi State knocked Love out of the game. The Augusta, Ga. native ended up going 4.2 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits to go along with four strikeouts.
Moorhouse helped try to get the Orange and Black back into things when he tallied an RBI groundout in the top of the eighth to cut the lead down to 4-3.
In the end, it wouldn't be enough as the Bulldogs pushed a run across in the bottom of the eighth and closer Caleb Reed pitched around a lead-off double by sophomore Derrick Workman to close out the win for the home team.
Workman and Moorhouse each led the Bears with two hits apiece in the loss.
Mercer returns to action tomorrow afternoon for game two of its three-game series with Mississippi State. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field.