First baseman signee Michael Pineiro comes from California to join Terps

While 10 of 12 players in Maryland baseball’s Class of 2017 are from the mid-Atlantic, one signee is set to travel from one coast to another to put on a Terrapin jersey next fall.

First baseman commit Michael Pineiro is a senior at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, which is approximately 2,600 miles from the University of Maryland—a lengthy 38-hour drive.

He’ll be the first Maryland player from the state of California since former Maryland right-hander Jake Stinnett, who was selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs.

Although he will move across the country to play baseball for the next four years, Pineiro is not too worried about being so far away from his home in California.

“I’m just a little nervous because it’s college and Division I baseball, but I’m not really that nervous,” he said. “I think it’s good for me to be away and focus more, rather than being close to home.”

Pineiro’s desire to “focus more” stems from that fact this is the first year he’s played baseball year-round. He played on his high school football team through his junior year but stopped in fear of getting hurt and wanting to focus solely on baseball.

“He’s a legacy player for us,” Los Osos baseball head coach Chris Romero said. “He’s a three-year varsity guy. You have to carry the tradition of the school and he’s done that.”

But Pineiro believes he’s been at a disadvantage since many of his teammates spend the entire year on the diamond while he’s had to take time off for football.

“I think I’d be a lot better if I was playing year-round,” he said. “I’d be joining different scout teams and going to more showcases.”

While it’s just his first year focusing primarily on baseball, Pineiro has loved the game since the age of three when his dad first introduced him to the sport.

But Pineiro’s father-son baseball relationship is not one everyone gets to experience.

His father, Mike Pineiro, was drafted out of West Covina High School (Calif.) in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft by the California Angels. He hit .263 in five seasons in the minors before going on to play two additional seasons in an independent league.

After his dad left the game, he went on to teach his son everything he knew about baseball.

“He basically put me in Little League and he was my coach until I was 12,” Pineiro said. “Then after that he let me go my own way and play with different travel ball teams.”

It was on a travel team during a tournament in Virginia that Pineiro showcased his skills in front of the Maryland coaching staff, including head coach John Szefc. Even though he had a really great weekend at the plate, Pineiro says he prides himself on defense.

“I’m pretty athletic at first base and most [first basemen] are usually the big guys that just stand around, but I would say I’m pretty athletic over there,” Pineiro said. “I’m also really good at picking the ball. It’s probably one of the most fun things to do at first.”

Photo courtesy of Michael Pineiro
Photo courtesy of Michael Pineiro

While Pineiro is excited for the “true hops” on the turf at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, the field was just one of many factors that drew him to College Park.

“They were one of the first schools to recruit me,” he said. “I just felt extremely comfortable with the coaches, the facilities and my recruiting class.”

Even though Pineiro is anxious to step foot on campus this fall, he says he has to work on his consistency this spring.

“It’s always [taken] me a while into my high school season to get in a groove of things and get my swing back and all that stuff,” he said. “I want to stay consistent the entire season.”

While there is always room for improvement, Romero is optimistic about both Pineiro’s senior season and future in college baseball.

“He’s got a good left-handed swing,” Romero said. “He’ll get bigger and stronger with more power as he gets older but he’ll have things to prove just like every other player that enters Division I baseball.”

Since he didn’t play football this past fall, Pineiro has been working out in the weight room and hitting in the cage as much as possible, in addition to other team activities.

“We’ve [played] in different tournaments in the fall and it definitely helped me out,” he said. “I’ll be ready for my senior season in the spring.”

Pineiro will look to build off a solid junior season, one in which he hit .292 with five doubles, eleven runs scored and eleven RBI’s in 23 games.

According to his coach, Pineiro is not a leader who motivates his team by getting loud and yelling. Instead, he uses his personality to spark energy.

“He’s very fun loving,” Romero said. “We’re in the weight room a lot and he’s the DJ, dancing around and keeping everybody loose. That’s his personality [and he’s] that kind of leader.”

After Pineiro chases his goal of clinching a playoff berth and then making a championship run with his high school team, he will then look forward to making that 2,600-mile trip to Maryland, a school he felt comfortable committing to despite the distance.

“They made me feel like I was part of a program,” Pineiro said. “They made me feel at home.”

Terps’ signee Tommy Gardiner ready to bring strong work ethic and passion to College Park

Lenape High School leadoff hitter Tommy Gardiner stood in the batter’s box facing a 1-2 count. On the next pitch, he unloaded, launching the curveball over the left-center field fence to give the Lenape Indians a 1-0 lead over Camden Catholic. The Indians would go on to win 4-1 on Senior Night.

“It felt good to get my teammates fired up.” Gardiner said. “It was an important game to jump start a big seven-game win streak.”

Gardiner signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of Maryland on November 9.

“I chose Maryland for the great coaching staff and the good education,” Gardiner said. “I want to win a national championship and I feel we can win one here.”

The 5’8, 140 lb. second-baseman will have some familiar faces on the roster as he is already well acquainted with fellow commits Drew Wilden, Chris Alleyne and Richie Schiekofer—all four are from the South Jersey/Philadelphia area.

Gardiner, a native of Mount Laurel, N.J., started playing baseball around the age of five. Originally a catcher, he made the move to the middle infield seven years later. In eighth grade, Gardiner attended an All Out Baseball (AOB) showcase, participating with some of the best high school players in the area.

“[Gardiner] has a special ability to barrel the ball up on the bat,” AOB Coach Guy Lynam said. “His wrists are strong and he knows how to use his body well and transfer 100 percent of his weight into the baseball.”

Lynam raves about his defensive skills as well, saying he has the utmost confidence in him to make plays.

Photo Courtesy of Tommy Gardiner.

“I’ve seen [Gardiner] play just under 1000 games.” Lynam said. “Literally, I’ve never seen the kid make an error.”

As much as Gardiner is talented, it’s his work ethic that really impresses Lynam.

“I’ve seen Tommy play since he was nine years old,” he said, “When [Gardiner] started playing on our teams he was probably lower in the lineup. An eight or nine hitter because of size.”

But Gardiner’s size, or lack thereof, gave him a chip on his shoulder which helped fuel an unstoppable determination. Gardiner’s hard work and dedication made him into “one of the best pure hitters in [ABO’s] program,” according to Lynam.

While he is excited to get started at the University of Maryland, Gardiner’s focus is currently on his high school baseball team.

“Every year we’ve made it pretty far [in the playoffs]; we’ve never won a state championship.” Gardiner said. “We’d like to do that this year.”

Terps signee Drew Wilden flourishes after recent transition to mound

Until his sophomore year of high school, Drew Wilden was a center fielder. He started pitching only when his coach put him on the mound to see what would happen. His velocity and accuracy have increased since then, and now, two years later, he’s a talented southpaw with a 90 mph fastball and a filthy slider. Perfect Game’s No. 1 left-handed pitcher in New Jersey, Wilden signed his national letter of intent Nov. 9 to continue his career as a member of the University of Maryland’s pitching staff.

Photo courtesy of Drew Wilden.

Wilden started playing baseball when he was five, and has played every spring and fall since then. As a New Jersey native, he grew up a Phillies fan and has always looked up to Cole Hamels. Now that he’s a pitcher, Wilden says he strives to be the same kind of pitcher as Hamels and works off his style.

In addition to playing for West Deptford High School, Wilden plays summers and falls with All Out Baseball, an elite South Jersey college prep baseball program. He said his experience with All Out challenges him in a way that high school baseball can’t, as they travel more extensively and he’s faced some of the best players on the east coast.

Entering his final season before college, Wilden would like for his high school team to replicate what they did last season.

“We won the state championship last year, that’s a huge goal,” he said. “But we take the season one game at a time.”

When Wilden visited Maryland, he knew it was the place where he wanted to spend his college career. He said he instantly made connections with the coaches and Maryland’s baseball program is “on the rise.” He also said he appreciated the beautiful campus and it immediately felt like home. In his time at Maryland, he anticipates having teammates he can rely on and making sure his teammates know they can rely on him.

“Winning the College World Series is definitely on my bucket list,” Wilden said. But for now, he said, the most important thing is to work and hard and win games as a team.

Left-hander Grant Burleson looks to continue high school success with Terps

With two strikes and two outs, just one pitch separated Grant Burleson and Parkside High School from the Bayside Conference Championship title. Bearing down, he threw a fastball for strike three to seal the deal, and his teammates dog-piled to celebrate the school’s first conference title since 1996.

The left-handed pitcher from Salisbury, Md., needed just 12 fastballs to close out the game in what he called “the proudest moment of his career.”

The No. 4 player in Maryland according to Prep Baseball Report, Burleson signed his national letter of intent on November 9, confirming his commitment to the University of Maryland. He joins fellow Parkside southpaw Sean Fisher as part of the Terps’ 2017 recruiting class. Both will join sophomore right-hander Hunter Parsons as Parkside alumni on Maryland’s roster.

Photo courtesy of Grant Burleson.
Photo courtesy of Grant Burleson.

Burleson looks up to Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander Clayton Kershaw, and takes after him on the mound with swing-and-miss stuff. This past spring for Parkside, he struck out 31 batters in just 18 innings, effectively using a three-pitch mix of a fastball, curveball and change-up.

“He is really good at moving the ball around,” Parkside coach Brian Hollamon said.  “He can backdoor you, he can put it under your hands.”

The left-hander will pitch for the Terps, but he is not too shabby a hitter himself, as he was tied for third on Parkside last year with 19 hits. But while he has earned high praise on the field, he has the respect of others off the field as well.

“He’s a great kid, [he] does well in school,” Hollamon said. “He works hard in anything he does.”

But despite his accomplishments so far, Burleson wants to improve further before he takes the mound for the Terps.

“I feel like I need to work on my changeup, just mixing up speeds and hitting my spots better,” he said.

While he looks forward to playing with Fisher and Parsons again with the Terps, it was not the deciding factor in signing with Maryland. He ultimately chose College Park because it is a ‘good distance from home,’ and his admiration for the coaching staff at Maryland.

“I want to get a degree at the University of Maryland, and also be successful in helping the baseball team,” Burleson said.  



Five-tool outfielder Richie Schiekofer hopes to be catalyst for Terps

The Millburn Millers (Millburn, N.J.) are 49-10 and have won a state championship since 2015, which is when Richie Schiekofer earned a starting role on the varsity team as a sophomore.

The senior outfielder has provided a spark in the leadoff spot, on the base paths and with his glove, and he is now looking to be that same catalyst for the Terps.

Schiekofer is one of ten players from the class of 2017 to sign his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of Maryland.

“I visited as a freshman and loved it from the minute I set foot on campus,” Schiekofer said. “I didn’t really respond to many other schools recruiting me because I had my heart set on Maryland, and when I finally heard from Maryland with an offer I committed immediately.”

Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.
Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.

Connections to coaches, the new facilities and the school’s academic offerings are the primary factors that Schiekofer said went into his decision. If his high school track record is an indication of things to come, the Terps are getting a true difference maker in Schiekofer.

He made his varsity debut as a sophomore and was immediately thrust into the leadoff spot. The outfielder batted .393 with 39 runs scored, 13 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. The team went on to win a state championship, and Schiekofer was named Second-Team All-Conference and Third-Team All-Group 4. As a junior, he batted .435 with 36 runs scored, 19 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. He was named First-Team All-Conference and Third-Team All-Group 4, but Millburn fell just shy of a second consecutive state championship.

“He will not blow you away with his 60 [yard dash] times, but he is a great base runner with more than enough speed to do damage,” Millburn head coach Brian Chapman said. “He hits for average and can drive the ball with power, particularly to the opposite field. He has a tremendous arm and an unbelievable glove. He is a true five-tool player, which is rare for someone who has not yet played his senior season. His best baseball is still ahead of him.”

Chapman actually believes Schiekofer has a sixth tool in his arsenal – leadership.

Schiekofer spent his sophomore year in left field, but Chapman knew his true position was in center. Chapman called Schiekofer into his office for a meeting to discuss the move, but Schiekofer turned it down. One of his close friends, Nick Minter, was a rising senior, and he wanted Minter to be able to spend his senior season in center field.

Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.
Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.

“He put his hands on my hands and said, ‘Coach, I know I am going to be a centerfielder down the road, but I am going to be fine in left playing next to Nick. If there is a school that doesn’t want me because you have me in left as a junior, then I don’t want that school,’” Chapman recounted. “That is a true leader right there, putting his teammates before himself. Maryland is getting the total package.”

Schiekofer still has one more year of high school baseball and emphasized the fact that his focus is on winning another state championship, but he also has an eye toward the future.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a national championship,” he said. “[Maryland] has improved steadily over the last few years and I do not think a national championship is that far off. I am looking forward to being a part of the team that finally brings it home.”


Terps’ signee Sean Fisher always looking to compete and improve on the mound

Sean Fisher’s love of the game started at an early age. From the time his parents signed him up for the Salvation Army league as a child, he was hooked on baseball. A two-sport athlete for most of his life, he played soccer and baseball at the varsity level at Parkside High School in Salisbury, Maryland.

But there was never a question of which sport he preferred; baseball has always been number one. A left-handed pitcher, the thrill of being on the mound fuels Fisher’s passion for the game.

“There is no better feeling than being out there in a really important game, in a tough situation, just trying to work out of it,” he said.

Fisher will bring that passion with him to Maryland, as on Nov. 9, the Parsonburg, Maryland, native signed his national letter of intent to play for the Terrapins.

A two-way player in high school, he was no slouch at the plate in the spring, hitting .255 with 10 RBI and a .739 OPS as a junior. But it was on the mound that he came into his own, as he pitched to a 3.39 ERA and held opponents to a .190 batting average while striking out 48 hitters in 31 innings en route to Parkside’s first Bayside Conference championship in 20 years.

According to Prep Baseball Report, he has a mid-80s fastball to go with a plus curveball and a changeup, a mix that has given him a lot of success, according to Parkside head coach Brian Hollamon.

“He’s a good, gritty competitor, and he has the ability to be an athlete, not just a baseball player,” Hollamon said. “[Last year], he stepped up and became one of our big game starters.”

Off the field, he makes just as much of an impact, as Hollamon said he’s a “jokester” who helps keep things loose on the bench when he isn’t out on the mound.

But despite his recent success, Fisher never takes anything for granted, saying that his major goal throughout his career has always been to just keep improving.

“I really just want to work hard and get better every day,” he said. “My dad has always been there to support and push me, always reminding me when to work out and keeping me on track.”

Fisher, who is now a senior in high school, is the third Parkside alum to sign with Maryland in recent years. Hunter Parsons (Parkside Class of 2015) is coming off a strong freshman campaign in the Terps’ rotation, and Class of 2017 teammate Grant Burleson has also signed to play in College Park.

“[Parsons] worked his way from the bullpen eventually into getting some starts [for Maryland],” Hollamon said of the former Parkside right-hander. “I can see [Fisher] being capable of doing the same thing: getting an opportunity and doing well with it.”

Photo courtesy of Sean Fisher.

Growing up, Fisher didn’t expect to play college baseball at a Division I school, so he jumped at the opportunity when Maryland gave him an offer. Knowing that Parsons has excelled with the Terps and that Burleson would accompany him to College Park influenced his decision, but ultimately, talking to the coaches made him certain this was the place for him.

“I never really knew that I would end up at the University of Maryland, but it’s a dream come true,” he said. “The coaching staff is great, and it just seems like a great environment where I can excel and continue to get better.”

While excited to play for the Terps down the road, his focus for now is finishing his high school career strong and bringing Parkside another Bayside championship. Never satisfied with what he’s accomplished, he wants to improve upon his strong junior campaign with an even better senior season, saying “there is always room to grow.”

With speed, defensive prowess, Chris Alleyne ready to compete in College Park

Chris Alleyne is one of ten players in the class of 2017 who have signed their National Letter of Intent to play baseball for Maryland.

The switch-hitting middle infielder out of Philadelphia, Pa., signed his National Letter of Intent on November 9.

Chris Alleyne signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Maryland on Nov. 9.

“There’s just a huge difference in the way that the conversations went with the coaches at Maryland,” Alleyne, a senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, said. “They really just explained everything perfectly and I love the campus.”

Springside Chestnut Hill head coach Joe Ishikawa is confident that Alleyne is well prepared for Maryland. He believes that defensively, Alleyne could play at the Division I level now.

“Defensively, he’s in another world,” he said.

According to Ishikawa, Alleyne has quick hands, a great arm and is very versatile. He allows Ishikawa to play his outfield deep because of how well he can move to shallow left and center field from shortstop.

Offensively, Ishikawa described Alleyne as a clutch switch hitter with gap-to-gap power, who is also very fast.

“When he gets on the base path he creates chaos pretty quickly,” Ishikawa said. “Its rare he gets on first and not work his way around to score.”

Alleyne was named a high honorable mention on Rawlings and Perfect Game’s 2016 Preseason All-American Team.

Alleyne will join a former Springside Chestnut Hill Blue Devil on the Terps’ roster next fall.

Junior outfielder Zach Jancarski, who is good friends with Alleyne’s older brother, showed Alleyne around the campus during his visit to Maryland.

During Jancarski’s first year on the Terps, he entered as a pinch runner sixteen times and started in four games. As a sophomore, Jancarski started in 28 games and became the everyday center fielder two months into the season.

Ishikawa predicts a similar path for Alleyne.

“It’s very difficult for a freshman to come in and take the place of a returning senior, but I’m sure he’s going to get time,” Ishikawa said. “He’s just such a presence on a field.”

Alleyne is up for any challenge.  He plans to come out and compete for his spot on the team everyday when he arrives in College Park.

“I love to compete because I think it brings out the best in players and it’s a huge part of my game,” Alleyne said.

Ishikawa congratulates Alleyne after scoring an insurance run. (Chestnut Hill Local/Jonathan Vander Lugt)

Ishikawa pointed out Alleyne’s competitive spirit as one of his biggest strengths.

“He is just a true competitor and with that comes his extraordinary work ethic,” Ishikawa said.

Until Alleyne gets the opportunity to compete for a spot on the field at Maryland, he is preparing for his senior season by working on hitting for power.

In addition to improving another aspect of his game, Alleyne’s goal for his senior season is to be a good leader.

“I want to lead my team to a league championship by bringing them together and setting a foundation for the freshmen and sophomores,” Alleyne said.

Typically, the captain position on Springside Chestnut Hill’s team is reserved for seniors. However, Alleyne was named captain by his teammates last year, as a junior, and will return as head captain this year.

“Everyone gravitates to [Alleyne],” Ishikawa said. “If you take nine magnetic balls and spread them apart and then run one around them picking them all up, that’s him.”


Justin Vought’s winning temperament leads him to Maryland

Justin Vought is used to winning. His high school team was in the state finals in 2015 and he has been a state champion in two of his three seasons playing legion ball.

The catcher from Wyoming Valley West High School in Pennsylvania is looking to bring his winning ways to Maryland now that he is officially one of 10 signees for the Terps’ Class of 2017.

“I’ve been in some pretty big situations my whole career,” Vought said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some winning teams with some good players around me that I’ve been able to learn from. They just push me even harder.”

One of those players is St. John’s University catcher Ryan Hogan, who was one of Vought’s closest friends and teammates in high school.

“Ryan and I have been close friends since little league,” Vought reflected. “He’s been the big brother I never wanted, to be honest with you.”

Since both Vought and Hogan play the same position, they were able to communicate thoroughly about the intricacies of playing catcher.

“He’s been a year ahead of me so I’ve always been the little guy to everybody,” Vought said. “That just pushed me to work that much harder to be just as good, if not better, than he is.”

Photo by Jay Yozviak.

Although they have talked plenty about how to call a game from behind the plate and the approach of a hitter, Hogan said that his favorite part of having Vought as a teammate was the passion with which he played the game.

“He loves the game, that’s one thing you could say about him,” Hogan said. “He’s very strong with his skills and his abilities, but I think what really harnesses those things is the fact that he likes to work. To get to the level that we’re at it takes a lot of work on and off the field. He definitely puts it in.”

Hogan, who won three state titles during his time at Wyoming Valley West High School, agreed that winning is a huge reason why Vought will succeed at Maryland.

“We’re pretty used to the tradition of going out there and having excellence on the field,” Hogan said. “I can see why he wants to carry that on at Maryland. It’s not surprising that he chose that path.”

However, past success is not the only reason why Vought will put on the red, black and gold in 2017. He wants to help the Terps winning ways carry on to the future.

“A lot of people who I talked to said once you step on the campus, your first time there, you’re really going to feel like it’s going to be home for the next four years,” Vought said. “Once [Associate Head Coach Rob] Vaughn and [Head Coach John] Szefc started reaching out to me… it felt like home — especially coming off back-to-back super regionals.

“They felt like my second fathers for the next four years and I really want to help those guys get the next step to reach — to get to Omaha,” he said.

Hogan, who has spent countless hours in the dugout, the weight room and on the field with Vought, has no doubt that he’ll blend into the Maryland program well immediately.

“Ryan’s a really good kid. You get a lot of kids who come into school and all they care about is baseball,” he said. “Sometimes their personality lacks and sometimes they’re not good teammates. He meets those standards… He carries that excellence off the field as well as on the field.”

Mark DiLuia feeds off being in control on the mound 

Before Mark DiLuia walked to the plate with two runners on, two out in the last inning, and his team down two runs, his coach had some advice.

“I get the chills just thinking about it,” Marian Catholic High School Coach Tony DeCarlo said. “I’ll never forget what I told him. I said, ‘Hey, we don’t need a home run right now but if you hit one it’d be pretty cool.’”

Demonstrating tremendous coachability, DiLuia lofted the second pitch of the at-bat over the center field fence to give Marian Catholic a 4-3 2016 regional semifinal win over rival Homewood-Flossmoor.

He calls the home run one of the highlights of his baseball career.

“It was by far one of the best feelings of my life, beating our rival school at their field and giving us another chance in the playoffs,” DiLuia said.

DiLuia, a native of Flossmoor, Illinois and now a senior at Marian Catholic, signed on Nov. 9 to play for Maryland as a member of the 2017 recruiting class.


He’ll be a pitcher with the Terrapins but DeCarlo thinks his home run in last year’s playoffs is still instructive as to the type of player DiLuia is.

“The way he handles pressure is amazing,” said DeCarlo, who is entering his third season as head coach at Marian Catholic. “Whether he’s on the mound or at the plate, he’s extremely clutch in both situations and what an attribute to have on your team as a coach with a kid like that.”

Photo courtesy of Mark DiLuia
 DiLuia said he signed with Maryland not only because of baseball but also because of everything the campus has to offer.

“When I was going through the process, everyone with me during the whole thing was telling me to decide what school I want to go like if I was just going there to be a regular student and find the place that feels like home,” DiLuia said.

He found that place in College Park.

“Maryland was the perfect place,” he said. “I loved the coaches, I loved the players and what they’re all about and I felt like I could make a difference there right away.”

The 18-year old DiLuia also said being a student-athlete is key for him and, since he plans to major in something in the business field, the prestige of the Robert H. Smith School of Business was important.

“One day baseball’s going to come to an end, whether it’s in five years or 10 years or 20 years, you need to have that education because you never know when you might need to use it,” he said.

The right-handed DiLuia stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and Prep Baseball Report ranked him No. 11 in the Illinois class of 2017.

He throws a fastball that is usually 86-88 mph, a change-up, and a slider, according to PBR. PBR scouts said the slider has “tight, sweeping action” and he “consistently showed an advanced feel” for it in 2015.

DiLuia said he’s been working to improve his control before his senior season starts.

“It’s just been working on my command of all three of my pitches, trying to get that confidence to where I can throw them anytime,” he said.

DiLuia said he started playing baseball “as soon as I can remember” and first played on an organized team when he was a 6-year-old member of the Flossmoor Firebirds.

He said the camaraderie with the teams he’s played on is one of his favorite aspects of baseball but he also enjoys the loneliness of the pitcher’s mound.

“It feels good having control of every play out there,” DiLuia said of pitching. “I kind of like the pressure that everyone puts on you and I like being quote, unquote ‘The Man’ out there on the field.”

DeCarlo said DiLuia is “obviously extremely talented” but touts his makeup as well.

“I can sit here all day and tell you great things about him,” DeCarlo said. “Extremely hard-working kid who’s just a pleasure to have on a team, so I know he’s going to do a lot of great things at Maryland.”

Randy Bednar brings versatility to Terps Class of 2017

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.

He’s been at Landon all his life, and now he’s bringing his talents to College Park, MD. (Courtesy of Randy Bednar)

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.”