Two-hundred screaming Bullis High School fans all wanted to see Maryland-signee Randy Bednar fail.
It was the 2016 Independent Athletic Conference Championship game, and the Landon Bears were one out away from having their miraculous postseason run cut short. With his team down one with a runner on first, Bednar stepped up to the plate.
“If he doesn’t produce something, the season is over,” Landon head coach Bill Reed said.
Bednar worked a full count—the season a strike away from being over. He fouled off the next pitch to keep the at-bat alive, then fouled off the next pitch, too, and the one after that, and the one after that, in an at-bat that lasted 17 pitches.
“I was not going down on a called third strike,” Bednar told Reed after the game.
On the 18th pitch, Bednar ripped a double off the wall, scoring the runner from first to send the game into extra innings.
“That was the most special, most memorable moment of my high school career,” Bednar said.
The Bears took the lead off of an error in the infield and held on in the bottom of the frame to win the 2016 IAC Championship.
Bednar, an outfielder and left-handed pitcher, and a native of nearby Bethesda, Md., was the first player to commit to Maryland’s 2017 recruiting class.
“The moment I knew I wanted to go to Maryland was when I first made that visit,” Bednar said. “Every time I visited, more and more I started to grow in love with Maryland. Since I made my verbal commitment, I haven’t made any regrets on making that decision ever in my life.”
He committed to the Terps and head coach John Szefc the summer after his freshman year of high school, calling Szefc someone that he’s “looked up to not only as a coach, but someone I could look for advice on and off the field.”
Szefc has told Bednar he’d like to see him as a two-way player—both as a centerfielder, and as a left-handed pitcher. The versatility to both pitch and hit is rare in college baseball, but Reed has known about Bednar’s advanced athleticism for a long time.
“Even when he was a little, little, guy…you could kind of tell,” Reed said. “We’ve seen it coming. When he was a middle school kid, he would often take reps on field with varsity as a sixth and seventh grader. He was driving the ball, he was technically sound, his swing was consistent. He just looked like a young high school kid and he was in seventh grade.”
Since becoming the Bears’ coach in 1999, Reed has brought the program five IAC Championships after a 30-year drought. Bednar hopes his last season with Landon brings the program a sixth title.
“I’m trying to make this last year with him special and memorable,” Bednar said. “I’m just trying to live in the moment, make the most of it, and just have fun with my senior year. Because I know [I’m] never getting it back.”