JACKSON TWP — There was no settling-in period for Will Bednar.
Mars’ junior pitcher was on top of his game right from the start in Tuesday’s WPIAL Class 5A first-round baseball playoff contest against Trinity.
Bednar struck out the side in the top of the first inning on just 10 pitches. He finished the game with 16 strikeouts and no walks as the Planets advanced with a 2-1 victory at Seneca Valley’s Raider Field.
“It’s important to make a statement in that first inning,” said Mars coach Andy Bednar. “Will has done a good job of that the last few games.”
“I didn’t know much about their lineup,” Bednar said of the Hiller batters, “but my fastball was working really well. I felt pretty good out there.”
That fastball was too much for Trinity (5-10) for much of the game. It topped out at 95 mph at least once and hit 94 at other times.
“We honestly didn’t know much about him (Bednar) until the last few days,” said Trinity coach Shawn Allen. “We did our homework on him and knew we had our work cut out for us. A high school kid doesn’t get to 95 that often. To see it live, it was pretty remarkable.”
Bednar mowed through the first eight batters he faced, striking out six of them. He surrendered a two-out single to Cameron May in the top of the third, but was stranded.
Working with a 2-0 lead, Will Bednar allowed Trinity’s lone run in the top of the fourth. Tanner Hudak smacked a two-out triple to left-center, then scored on Kyle Steele’s base hit.
“I left a few fastballs out over the plate a bit,” said Will Bednar, an Ohio State University commit. “I knew I had to keep pounding that outside corner.”
Bednar would strand four baserunners the rest of the way, including two in the seventh when, after back-to-back singles with two outs from Logan Defillippo and Jax Banco, he struck out Cameron May on what else ... an overpowering fastball.
“It’s the seventh inning and a 2-1 game, being at your best when you have to be,” said Coach Bednar. “We talked about that with Will and he was on over the last three innings today.”
The Planets (13-5) managed all the offense they would need in the first three innings.
Against Steele, Jon Wetherholt drew a one-out walk in the first frame, stole second base and scored when Jack Anderson laced a base hit to left.
In the bottom of the third, Rowen Fletcher singled, stole second and came home on Frank Craska’s two-out base hit.
“We try to be aggressive on the basepaths,” Coach Bednar said. “We got some of our faster guys on base and put some heat on the pitcher and catcher.”