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.”

image1
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.

bednar-1
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.”

Maryland adds ten signees to Class of 2017, including five from Maryland

Ten recruits have signed their national letters of intent to play baseball for the Maryland Terrapins beginning in the 2017-18 season. Here are the recruits who recently put the pen to the paper:


Christopher Alleyne

Position: SS

High School: Chestnut Hill Academy

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

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


Randy Bednar

Position: OF/LHP

High School: Landon

Hometown: Bethesda, Md.

Noteworthy: Prep Baseball Report ranks Bednar as Maryland’s No. 2 player for the Class of 2017.


Grant Burleson

Position: LHP

High School: Parkside High School

Hometown: Salisbury, Md.

Noteworthy: Prep Baseball Report ranks Burleson as Maryland’s No. 4 player for the Class of 2017.


Mark DiLuia

Position: RHP

High School: Marian Catholic

Hometown: Flossmoor, Il.

Noteworthy: DiLuia is ranked No. 11 in Prep Baseball Reports’ Illinois 2017 Class and No. 75 in the Overall Ranks.


Sean Fisher

Position: LHP

High School: Parkside High School

Hometown: Parsonburg, Md.

Noteworthy: Ranked in the top-20 in Prep Baseball Reports’ Maryland 2017 Class.


Tommy Gardiner

Position: SS

High School: Lenape

Hometown: Mount Laurel, NJ

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


Michael Piniero

Position: 1B

High School: Los Osos

Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA

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


Richie Schiekofer

Position: OF/LHP

High School: Millburn

Hometown: Millburn, NJ

Noteworthy: Schiekofer was named an honorable mention on Rawlings and Perfect Game’s 2016 Preseason All-American Team.


Justin Vought

Position: C

High School: Wyoming Valley West

Hometown: Wilkes-Barre, PA

Noteworthy: Prep Baseball Report ranks Vought as Pennsylvania’s No. 15 player for the Class of 2017.


Drew Wilden

Position: LHP

High School: West Deptford

Hometown: West Deptford, NJ

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

Stay tuned for more recruiting coverage from MBN. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

Feature image courtesy of Grant Burleson.