UNLV baseball coach Tim Chambers went to his ace before the eighth inning Friday and told him his night was over.
Erick Fedde responded with something unprintable for a family newspaper and took the mound.
Chambers tried again before the ninth, and Fedde gave his coach R-rated directions on what to do and again went back on the field.
No one was taking out Fedde, including Chambers. Overcoming two early runs and then late trouble, the potential first-round draft pick tossed a complete game, spinning a six-hitter to lead UNLV to a 5-4 victory over San Diego State in the first of a three-game series. The teams meet again at 1:05 p.m. today.
Fedde, who hit 96 mph in the ninth inning, struck out a career-high 12 before an announced crowd of 1,243 at Wilson Stadium that included about 20 major league scouts. He threw 122 pitches to improve to 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
This is a key series for the first-place Rebels (15-6, 8-2 Mountain West) in what should be a three-team battle. San Diego State (16-5, 4-3) and New Mexico (15-7-1, 5-2) also should have a say in which team wins the regular-season championship.
“Any time you win a conference game, it’s huge, especially against a team like that,” said UNLV first baseman Patrick Armstrong, who went 2-for-3 with a run. “They’re a good team, and we played well.”
The Rebels won in the most unusual fashion, breaking a tie at 2 with three runs in the sixth without getting a hit. UNLV scored all three runs with the bases loaded on two walks and a hit batter.
San Diego State did all it could to stop the damage by making three pitching changes during the inning.
UNLV, of course, wouldn’t turn down three runs, but the roughly half-hour inning cooled off Fedde, who had retired 14 in a row through six.
“It felt like (the Aztecs) were icing him a little bit,” Chambers said. “They might not have been, but even if they weren’t (trying), it was icing him.”
The junior right-hander gave up two run-scoring hits, a triple and a single, in the seventh to bring the Aztecs to within a run. He came back to strike out the final two batters to end the threat.
Chambers thought it was time to go to the bullpen in the eighth, but Fedde wouldn’t hear of it.
Again, though, Fedde ran into trouble, giving up a leadoff single to Greg Allen. The speedy Allen found his way to third base on a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base. Fedde then struck out the final two batters to strand Allen.
As he came off the mound, Fedde pumped both fists and yelled as his teammates ran out of the dugout to high-five him.
“It’s awesome to see that emotion,” Patrick Armstrong said. “I’ve never seen him that fired up.
“That’s awesome because it’s a big game. We’re in first place, and we want to keep our spot. It’s great to see him get fired up out there.”
And no way Fedde was going to take a seat in the ninth.
“I said, ‘Sorry, Coach, but I’m not coming out of this game,’ ” Fedde said, probably sanitizing what was said. “He has the trust in me to get it done.”
So Fedde went back out, and the Aztecs’ Spencer Thornton led off the inning with a sharp liner to center field. UNLVs Joey Armstrong ran hard into shallow center and made a sensational diving catch.
Then Fedde ended the game with a strikeout and flyout, finding a way to win even when all didn’t go smoothly for him.
“This is what you live for, the one-run games like that,” Fedde said. “The whole team played well. Close games like that are the most fun to pitch in, for sure.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter @markanderson65.