It was the 8th time in 11 meetings the Catfish were beaten by Hickory.
Hickory P Bradley Clapp earned the win, while Catfish starter Brian Flores lost for the 1st time in over a month.
Clapp tossed five frames, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits and three walks, striking out a pair en route to his second win of the season. After starting 0-6 this season, Clapp has now gone 2-0 in his last four appearances, including an ERA of 2.63 in his last five starts. It also marked his first home win of the year.The Catfish actually out-hit Hickory, but couldn't always put the hits together in a way to turn them into runs.
While Clapp kept the 'Fish on a line, Mercer and Hague delivered crucial blows in the contest.
First, Mercer snapped a 1-28 slump with a two-out, two-run double in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie.
Then in the sixth inning, with Hickory ahead 5-2 and looking for the knockout, Hague delivered a two-out, three-run double in his first bases loaded at-bat of the year to give the Crawdads their biggest lead of the night at 8-2.
Columbus' Mike McCormick pounded a two-run home run in the top of the ninth, but the Catfish would never seriously threaten the Hickory lead.
C Ian Paxton was 3-for-4. 2B Shawn Williams and 3B Greg Sexton each had a pair of hits. Every Catfish batter reached base at least once.
The series concludes Saturday night.