Feb. 15, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team dropped its season-opener Friday, in a mistake-filled 4-2 setback against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in front of 1,385 fans at Isotopes Park.
“We made some mistakes late,” head coach Ray Birmingham said. “I thought we were going to go into the ninth with a 3-2 lead.”
The Lobos committed two errors in the field and a base-running gaffe cost the team a run in the seventh. With Josh Melendez on third and Ryan Padilla on first and one out in a tie ballgame, DJ Peterson lofted a deep fly ball to left field that should have scored the speedy Melendez with ease.
Padilla, however, tagged up and raced for second where he was tagged out just before Melendez crossed home plate. The double play ended the inning and prevented the Lobos from taking the lead.
“It was just one of those things where Padilla thought he heard something,” Melendez said. “He was trying to make a play and it was an unfortunate mishap.”
Birmingham refused to blame his preseason All-American.
“Everything is going your way and someone makes a silly mistake, and it wasn’t because of a lack of effort,” Birmingham said. “He heard (someone yell) ‘Tag.’ The kid’s a great kid. He busted his tail.”
The Lobos threatened throughout the game as they had a runner reach scoring position in six innings, but they could never break through with a game-changing hit. They left nine men on base and only managed six hits in the contest.
Part of the lack of offense was due to Cowboy starter Jason Hursh, who held the Lobos to two runs on four hits in six innings.
“(Hursh) was pretty good,” Melendez said. “He was sitting 94 and had pretty good movement on his ball. He beat us for a while. We took the lead and got confident, but they fought back. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Peterson agreed, despite being the only Lobo to record a multi-hit game.
“He had good stuff,” he said. “He did a good job.”
The Lobos fell behind 1-0 in the third but took the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Sam Haggerty led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by fellow freshman Jared Holley, who was starting in the place of injured All-Mountain West performer Alex Allbritton.
Haggerty then advanced to third on an infield single by Melendez. Padilla followed with a sacrifice fly to right that knocked Haggerty home and advanced Melendez to second.
The Cowboys then decided to pitch to Peterson with first base open and it turned out to be a poor choice. He smoked a single up the middle to score Melendez and give the Lobos the lead.
Oklahoma State fought back and tied the game in the seventh, however. An error in the ninth led to the Cowboys' final two runs of the evening.
Despite the loss, Birmingham was very pleased with the way the Lobos pitched. Junior transfer A.J. Carman started on the mound for the Lobos and allowed one run on five hits in four innings. Josh Walker, who tied for the team lead with eight wins in 2013, then came in and allowed one run in three innings. Overall, Carman, Walker, Mathis and McClain walked only one batter.
“Carman, a new guy, came in and threw very well for us,” Melendez said.
The Lobos will look for their first win at 2 p.m. Saturday at Isotopes Park as junior transfer Anthony Consiglio takes the mound in his first Division I start.
Notes: Luke Campbell’s pinch-hit ground out in the bottom of the fifth was his first at-bat since June 4, 2011 against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Arizona State regional … the Lobos have not won on Opening Day since a 16-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on Feb. 22, 2008 … Freshman Jered Meek recorded a pinch-hit single in the ninth in his first collegiate at-bat.