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After a convincing win in Friday’s series opener, Iowa appeared ready to cruise to a successful weekend.

It didn’t happen.

The Hawkeyes fell on Saturday and followed that up with a 6-5 loss at Northwestern on Sunday, resulting in their first Big Ten Conference series loss of the season. Iowa (19-11, 3-3 Big Ten) entered the weekend with an eight-game winning streak — but exited with back-to-back losses for the third time this year.

The Hawkeyes couldn’t make an early 5-0 lead stand up, as Northwestern (11-20, 3-4) answered Iowa’s three-run fourth with four in the bottom half of the inning, before tacking on single runs in the fifth and sixth. Reliever Shane Ritter (2-2) surrendered a hit by pitch and two singles in the sixth — the second one coming from the Wildcats’ Alex Erro to hand Northwestern the lead.

Ritter was part of a three-man relief unit that picked up for starter Cole McDonald, who yielded six hits and four runs over just three innings. Jake Adams and Tyler Cropley each hit two-run homers to supply some early fireworks, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t make it last.

Iowa returns to action on Tuesday in midweek action against Western Illinois, before heading to Nebraska for three over the weekend.

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