A baserunning mistake and a fielding error were the kiss of death for the No. 21-ranked New Mexico baseball team on Friday.
Oklahoma State took advantage of both to earn a 4-2 win in front of 1,385 fans at Isotopes Park in the season opener for both teams.
"It's tough, we made some mistakes late," Lobos coach Ray Birmingham said. "I thought we were going to go into the ninth with a 3-2 lead. Everything's going your way and somebody makes a silly mistake. It wasn't because of lack of effort."
Gage Green hit a routine grounder to second base that freshman Sam Haggerty booted to start the ninth inning. After a sacrifice bunt moved Green to second, the Lobos (0-1) brought in closer Hobie McClain to face Tanner Krietemeier. The pinch hitter drove the first pitch he saw up the middle past a diving Haggerty, scoring Green with the go-ahead run.
Randy McCurry would add an RBI double to give the Cowboys (1-0) some breathing room.
"I think the (ninth) inning got big because we hadn't been on this dirt," Birmingham said. "That hurt big-time, not playing on the field you practice on, that hurt tonight. It would have given us an advantage to have been used to that dirt."
UNM put two on in its half of the ninth as Haggerty singled with one out and pinch hitter Jared Meek also singled, but Josh Melendez flew out to left and Ryan Padilla flew out to center to end the game.
"I think overall we took a lot of good things from that game," Melendez said. "It's disappointing that we lost, but overall I think we can come out (Saturday) and not beat ourselves up too much."
UNM could not muster much offense against the OSU pitching staff. The Lobos' only spurt came in the fifth inning when Padilla's sacrifice fly scored Haggerty and D.J. Peterson's RBI single drove in Melendez to put them up 2-1.
That lead lasted until the seventh, when reliever Josh Walker hit Walton leading off. McCurry's two-out, RBI single would then tie the game.
UNM had a shot at taking the lead in the bottom of the frame when Melendez drew a one-out walk, went to second on an error and took third on a wild pitch. Padilla drew a walk to bring up Peterson, who then smacked a long flyball to left field. In a bizarre move, Padilla tried to tag up and go to second, but he was thrown out before Melendez crossed home plate.
"That one, honestly I had no idea Padilla was going," Melendez said. "(Coach Ken Jacome) told me, 'Just go late, take it easy.' It was pretty deep, so he was like, 'Don't leave early.' So I was basically like I'm going to stay and watch him catch it and then I'll go in.
"All of a sudden I hear 'Down! Down!' and 'You're out!' and the run doesn't score and I'm like what the heck is going on? I looked behind me and Padilla's on second base and I go oh no, what happened?"
Birmingham had a similar reaction.
"It was like what the heck just happened," he said. "It is what it is. It happened.
"(Padilla) said he heard tag."
All told, the Lobos had just six hits, with Peterson having the only multi-hit game (2-for-4) and the only extra-base hit, a double in the first inning.
"It was a pretty frustrating night, but that's baseball, it happens," Peterson said.
OSU starter Jason Hursh allowed just the two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five over six innings.
"That's the thing I want to be positive about, we faced a guy who's going to beat a lot of people," Birmingham said. "He's 95 miles per hour with that breaking ball."
Brendan McCurry (1-0) earned the win for the Cowboys with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Will Mathis (0-1) took the loss in relief for UNM, allowing just the unearned run in 1.1 otherwise perfect innings.
"I thought we pitched really well," Birmingham said. "But we got punched in the nose. News flash, we're not going undefeated."
The Lobos will regroup and face the Cowboys again Saturday at 2 p.m.