Oklahoma State opened the 2013 season and the Josh Holliday head coaching era in winning fashion Friday, scoring twice in the ninth inning and knocking off 21st-ranked New Mexico, 4-2, at Isotopes Park.
Friday's win was fueled by the McCurry brothers, with Randy driving in three of the Cowboys' four runs and his younger brother, Brendan, picking up the win on the mound with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.
"It's awesome for these kids – they really came out and played a great game together against an excellent baseball team," Holliday said. "New Mexico is everything they were advertised to be, which is a very veteran, strong offensive team… that's a legitimate top 15, top 10 offense.
"It was fun. That's the team we are. We've got a lot of moving parts. I was proud of the way we responded and were able to win a close ballgame."
OSU captured momentum with a defensive play in the bottom of the seventh inning. With the game tied 2-2 and Lobos on first and third with one out, UNM All-American D.J. Peterson delivered a fly ball to left field that looked like a sure sacrifice fly. But after making the catch, Cowboy left fielder Gage Green fired to second, where Donnie Walton tagged out Ryan Padilla before Josh Melendez could reach the plate, resulting in an inning-ending double play.
"That's an undefendable play because if you throw home, the guy on first walks to second and if you throw to second, the runner on first retreats and the runner at third walks home," Holliday said. "Our kids did an amazing job of making an adjustment and throwing the ball to second base with an alertness to tag him before the runner got home. We were opportunistic, and that changed the game."
The Cowboys would make the most of their opportunities at the plate in their final at bat. Green reached on an error to lead off the ninth inning, and after a sacrifice bunt by Walton, Tanner Krietemeier came off the bench to pinch hit against UNM closer Hobie McClain.
And on the first pitch he saw in an OSU uniform, Krietemeier delivered an RBI single up the middle to put the Cowboys up 3-2. Two batters later, Randy McCurry picked up a two-out, RBI double to provide Holliday's club with a key insurance run.
UNM would mount a rally in the bottom of the ninth off Brendan McCurry, getting back-to-back singles with one out, but the Cowboy junior right-hander got the next two Lobos to fly out to seal the win.
Brendan McCurry was one of three relief pitchers for the Cowboys after starter Jason Hursh went six innings in his first OSU outing since 2011. The righty, who missed the entire 2012 campaign following Tommy John surgery, worked six innings and struck out five while allowing two runs on four hits and issuing three walks.
"Hursh pitched extremely well on a cold, windy night, and I was really proud of him," Holliday said. "He gave us exactly what we needed."
OSU got on the scoreboard first in the top of the third. Jarrett Higgins led off the inning with a triple to deep center field, and Randy McCurry grounded out to first to pick up an RBI and make the score 1-0.
That score held until the sixth when the Lobos plated a pair of runs to take the lead. Sam Haggerty walked to lead off the frame, then took second on a sacrifice bunt and third on an infield single by Melendez. Up next, Padilla delivered a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the score.
With two outs and Melendez on second, Peterson stepped to the plate and singled up the middle to bring home the go-ahead run.
The Lobos held the one-run lead until the seventh when Randy McCurry recorded the first of his two-out RBIs, smacking a single up the middle to bring home Walton and tie the score at 2-2.
The two teams return to action Saturday at 3 p.m. (CST).