New Mexico junior right-hander Toller Boardman was handed the role of Friday night starter despite being a newcomer to the program. The junior-college transfer looked every bit the part this Friday night in the Lobos’ 6-2 victory over San Diego State.
Boardman (3-0) allowed just one run on three hits and one walk in 6.1 innings of work for UNM (8-2, 3-1 Mountain West). He struck out three and kept the Aztecs (12-2, 3-1) off-balance all night.
“Oh my God, that was fantastic, that’s the guy I know,” Lobos coach Ray Birmingham said. “That’s the guy I’ve been looking for. That’s Andy Pettitte.”
Boardman had given up eight runs, five earned, in his last two starts. While his slider was his out pitch, he said he felt it was being overused and teams were able to get a better read on him.
“My previous scouting report for the last three starts I’ve had (said) I’ve been throwing a bunch of sliders, so I knew that they were going to look for sliders in,” Boardman said. “Coach (Dan) Spencer and I agreed in the bullpen that we needed to change up with the curveballs a lot more, keep them off-balance.”
The only two spots of trouble for Boardman came in the fourth and seventh innings. In the fourth, he gave up a one-out walk to Danny Sheehan and then an RBI double to Tyler France, the Aztecs’ first hit of the night.
In the seventh, Boardman gave up back-to-back, one-out singles to Seby Zavala and Andrew Brown. The Lobos brought in Victor Sanchez, who escaped the jam via a strikeout and a groundout to second base.
“I said when we got to the seventh with a lead, I went ‘we got ’em’,” Birmingham said. “It sent a message for me. That’s a good ballclub, that’s a really good ballclub.”
Leading 3-1, UNM then pounced on SDSU reliever Brett Seeburger in the bottom of the seventh. Chris DeVito’s RBI single and Cory Voss’ two-run single gave the Lobos a 6-2 cushion.
“It was good to win the first one, hopefully this takes our momentum through the weekend,” said Voss, a freshman catcher who was also quick to praise his pitcher. “The start by Toller was always a good one. He always comes out and pitches his heart out. The results show.”
Freshman Tyler Stevens gave up one run in the ninth, the only blemish on the UNM bullpen’s strong 2.2 innings of work. The Lobos also played well defensively, not allowing an error for the first time all season.
Voss and DeVito led the way offensively, driving in all six UNM runs. Voss also had an RBI triple in the second inning while DeVito had a two-run double in the third.
“I’m just trying to be smooth right now and it really seems to be working out,” Voss said. “I’m just trying to hit singles, go the other way. The confidence is there, that always helps.”
The Lobos and Aztecs are now tied for second in the Mountain West. Nevada rallied to beat UNLV 5-4 on Friday to move to 4-0 in league play.
UNM and SDSU will continue their series Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lobo Field. Senior left-hander Colton Thomson (1-1, 4.67 ERA) will start for the Lobos.