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Iowa fell in an early hole Saturday at the Hoover Classic and never fully recovered.

Alabama State scored four runs over the first three innings and upended the Hawkeyes, 4-3, at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala.

Starting in place of the injured C.J. Eldred (ulnar nerve), sophomore Cole McDonald yielded six hits and four runs (two earned) over three innings. He served up a two-run homer to Alabama State’s Gustavo Rios in the second, then couldn’t stop the bleeding following a two-out throwing error in the third. Three straight Hornets reached after the miscue, including a two-run single from Cage Cox.

Robert Neustrom responded with a solo homer in the bottom, and Iowa (3-3) tacked on single runs in the fifth and seventh as well. The Hawkeye bullpen kept Alabama State (2-6) in check — Josh Martsching and Nick Nelsen tossed a combined six scoreless frames — but Iowa’s lumber couldn’t push anything else across.

Rick Heller’s squad can still produce a winning weekend with a victory Sunday against Morehead State. First pitch is slated for noon.

Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.