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Iowa pitcher Brady Schanuel talks about his rotator cuff issue, working back to full strength. Dargan Southard/Hawk Central

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The damage started with a seven-run fourth, and Ball State never let up in handing Iowa its first loss of 2018.

The Cardinals battered Hawkeye pitching all afternoon and seemingly capitalized on every Iowa mistake, sticking Rick Heller’s squad with a loss on Saturday at the All-State Sugar Bowl Baseball Classic in New Orleans.

Looking for its best start since 1981, the Hawkeyes (4-1) grabbed a 2-0 lead before the wheels fell off. Ball State responded with the next 10 runs, punctuated by a seven-run fourth that knocked Iowa starter Brady Schanuel out of the game.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out on a walk and two singles, then took advantage of a fielding error and a wild pitch to grab a 4-2 lead. Another walk re-loaded the bases and signaled the end of the day for Schanuel, who surrendered seven runs, five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Ball State kept going against reliever Nick Nelsen, who served up a two-run single and a three-run homer to Colin Brockhouse upon entering in the fourth. Iowa climbed to within five, at 10-5, with a three-run seventh, but the Cardinals added one in the bottom half and three more in the eighth to cement a blowout win.

Iowa also struck out 13 times and left eight runners on.

“We’ve been making too many mistakes that we need to clean up — and sooner or later, that’s going to bite you in the butt — and it did tonight,” Hawkeyes associate head coach Marty Sutherland said on the radio postgame show. “We had a bunch of opportunities early. We had two runs and seven hits, and they had nine runs and seven hits at one point.

“They just made us pay for the mistakes we made, and we didn’t make them pay for the mistakes they were making early. I think they felt pretty good with us only having two runs those first four innings. We made two mistakes on the bases. One of those innings that we scored one, we leave the bases loaded. Just things that aren’t sustainable for winning baseball games have been happening pretty consistently.”

Iowa will try for a winning weekend on Sunday against host New Orleans. First pitch is at noon with Cole McDonald on the hill.

“Tonight, it finally all caught up with us,” Sutherland said. “We’ve just got a lot of work to do.”

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.

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