Mars grad Bednar continues pitching progression
David Bednar was used to serving as an ace on the mound for the Mars baseball team.
He assumed that role at Lafayette College, too. The sophomore right-hander proved to be the Leopards’ go-to guy on the hill this season.
This spring, Bednar built on a solid freshman campaign at Lafayette when he struck out 48 batters in 43 1⁄3 innings with a 4.15 earned-run average. This season, he fanned a team-best 70 in 63 1⁄3 innings with a 3.41 ERA.
“Certainly, it was a better year for me as well as the team. We took a lot of steps in the right direction,” he said. “We have a lot of good core players coming back, too. Hopefully, we can build on last year and be even better next year.”
Bednar, who saw his record improve from 1-4 a year ago to 3-7 this spring, was among the Patriot League’s top pitchers. He ranked fourth in opposing batting average (.219), fourth in strikeouts and third in batters struck out looking (25). He ranked 10th in innings pitched and ERA.
“It was a big adjustment from my freshman to sophomore years. The whole year of experience was huge, knowing the system and program a lot more and learning of what mistakes I made freshman year and building off that,” he said. “Just knowing that the season really is a grind is big. When you include summer ball, you’re going every week from the beginning of January until late July or early August. You just have to keep at it and keep grinding.”
Bednar is playing summer baseball in North Carolina for the Edenton Steamers of the Coastal Plains League. He picked up where he left off at Lafayette as he was 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA and a team-best 34 strikeouts through his first 22 1⁄3 innings pitched.
“Everything is going well. We’re winning a good bit, which is nice,” he said. “It’s been a great experience playing with a bunch of really good players down here. Overall, it’s been great.”
One of Bednar’s teammates is Mick Fennell, a Butler High School product. The two played together last summer for the Butler BlueSox.
“It’s definitely really cool playing with Mick again, especially being from Western Pa.,” Bednar said. “We have another player from the Pittsburgh area in Mike Bittel (Peters Township). It’s neat having some Pittsburgh kids down here.”
The three area players have helped Edenton get off to a quick start. The Steamers were 18-5 and leading the East Division standings through their first 23 games.
“It’s definitely been a great experience. It’s been really neat playing in some cool and different places I have never been to,” Bednar said. “It’s definitely different. It’s neat to play all over North Carolina and Virginia.”
While Bednar hopes to help lead the Steamers to the postseason, he also wants to work on his pitching arsenal.
“Summer is great. You want to win, but at the same time, it’s a perfect opportunity to work on all your pitches and skills so you are as sharp as possible next season,” he said. “I am probably just going to work more on my changeup, getting another offspeed pitch and honing my slider a little more.”
Despite his workload in the spring, Bednar is not limited to a certain number of innings this summer.
“We’re just playing it by ear and seeing how summer goes. My arm has been feeling really well and I haven’t had any problems, knock on wood,” he said. “As the season has gone on, I have seen my arm only getting stronger.”
Bednar, who is living with a host family, is settling into the Edenton area, which is located on Albemarle Sound in North Carolina’s Inner Banks region.
“My host family has been awesome,” he said. “The weather has been beautiful down here. It’s definitely a lot hotter than up in Pittsburgh.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.