Maryland baseball right fielder Randy Bednar whipped off his helmet in frustration after he ran through first base in the fourth inning Sunday. Army snared his sharp grounder at third to prevent an RBI, continuing the Terps' futility at the plate.
When Bednar reached the dugout, assistant coach Matt Swope gave him a high-five, leaned in to offer the Bethesda native advice and slapped Bednar's back on his way past.
The freshman reached base in his next three plate appearances, including a free-swinging solo home run in the seventh, to help Maryland secure one game of its three-game set with the Black Knights.
Bednar's potential as a consistent bottom-of-the-order batter can help the Terps find greater consistency at the plate. After a hot start to the season against Tennessee, Maryland's offense struggled against Army, but Bednar's aggressiveness supplied the Terps with an insurance run and exhibited their trademark relentlessness at the plate.
The Terps hope Bednar's breakout can reignite their high-powered offense to cover for their unpredictable midweek pitching on Wednesday against VCU.
"Randy's been very steady for us," coach Rob Vaughn said. "He hit two really hard balls Friday night and didn't have anything to show for it and hammers a ball at the third baseman [Sunday], not much to show for it. But the fact that he just stayed aggressive, stayed on go, I mean, he takes a hack 3-0 and just misses it and comes back on the next pitch, it's elevated, and he doesn't miss that one."
Maryland's plate discipline waned during its four-game losing streak, as the team mustered four hits and at least nine strikeouts in three of those games. Showing more patience on Sunday, the Terps forced eight walks, although they still went down on strikes nine times.
Maryland's second midweek game of the year will likely force the Terps to put across plenty of runs to counteract suspect pitching.
VCU beat William & Mary, 4-3, on Feb. 20. The next day, the Terps fell to the Tribe, 10-4, with 12 strikeouts.
Bednar managed to balance his aggression and discipline to reverse his fortunes at the plate last series. He hit 1-for-7 in the first two contests against the Black Knights, adding three strikeouts. He was hit by a pitch in the fifth, but nothing came of the appearance.
When he got to a 3-0 count in the seventh and saw a strike incoming, he didn't hold back, slicing a line drive foul down the left field line. Bednar turned on right-hander Matt Gray's next pitch and launched it out of the park.
"I want every pitch in the game to matter," Vaughn said. "We don't have a take sign anymore. So I don't want the pitcher to ever throw one pitch that he's not scared it's going to get hit in the gap."
Despite Bednar's excitement after hitting his first collegiate home run, he reined it in to force an RBI walk in the eighth.
The rookie, drafted in the 27th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, is third on the team with a .240 batting average. Some of Maryland's starters are hitting below their usual production, but Bednar's prowess can give offensive leaders Nick Dunn and Zach Jancarski opportunities with runners on.
With VCU right-hander Sam Ryan — who has allowed six walks in seven innings this season — expected to start Wednesday, the Terps will try to minimize strikeouts while working a pitcher with control issues, similarly to how they overcame Army on Sunday.
"All the coaches say, 'Don't worry about the result, just trust the process and everything else will take care of itself,'" Bednar said. "We're going to take [Sunday's] game, do what we did here and just try to replicate it over and over again."