The No. 21-ranked New Mexico baseball team will kick off the 2013 season against a big-name, big-conference opponent.
UNM will face Oklahoma State of the Big 12 in a three-game series starting Friday at 5 p.m. at Isotopes Park.
"We want to take all three and we're going to come out and give it 100 percent," said junior third baseman D.J. Peterson. "I think we're going to be a little nervous that first game, but once we get through that I'm sure the freshmen will (settle down). We'll be cutting ourselves short if we don't take all three from Oklahoma State."
In a surprise, the Lobos' lone returning weekend starter from last season, junior right-hander Josh Walker, will not start this weekend. Walker went 8-3 with a 4.19 ERA ERA in 18 games (11 starts) last year, but he failed to crack the rotation.
Instead, junior-college transfer A.J. Carman will start Friday's opener. Carman, a right-hander, went 7-2 with a 1.54 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) for Salt Lake City Community College last season.
Carman will be followed by another JC transfer, right-hander Anthony Consiglio (2-4, 4.74 ERA at Western Nevada CC) on Saturday and returning senior right-hander Sam Wolff (1-2, 5.52) on Sunday.
The UNM lineup will be without one of its starters as senior Alex Allbritton will sit out due to a broken right index finger. Allbritton suffered the injury during a bunting drill last week. Freshman Jared Holley will start in his place, meaning the Lobos will have an all-freshman double-play combo as Sam Haggerty will start at second base.
As for the rest of the lineup, another JC transfer, Chase Harris (.407, 8 HR, 62 RBI, 31 steals at the College of Southern Idaho) will start in right field. That pushes senior Luke Campbell, who redshirted due to injury last year, into the designated hitter spot alongside fellow senior John Pustay.
UNM will face an Oklahoma State squad coming off a 32-25 season, including a 13-11 mark in the Big 12. Baseball America picks the Cowboys to finish fifth in the conference this season.
A key to OSU's success will hinge on the health of Friday starter Jason Hursh, who missed last year after Tommy John surgery. The sophomore right-hander was rated as the Big 12's fourth-best draft prospect by Baseball America.
The Cowboys have not listed their Saturday and Sunday starters, though the odds favor sophomore lefty Tyler Nurdin — who also sat out last year due to a shoulder injury — and junior Nick Dolsky, a JC transfer.
The OSU lineup will be anchored by senior third baseman Robbie Rea (.324, 5 HR, 38 RBI last year) and junior first baseman Tanner Krietemeier, a JC transfer. Other returning starters include sophomore catcher Gage Green (.237), senior center fielder Jarrett Higgins (.252, 17 stolen bases) and senior outfielder Trey Whaley (.299, 19 RBI).
Saturday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m., with the Sunday finale at 1 p.m.
- Peterson and senior catcher Mitchell Garver were both named to the preseason 50-man watch list for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, the top honor in college baseball.
- Former Isotopes broadcaster Robert Portnoy will take over play-calling duties in the booth for Lobos games this season on 101.7-FM.