Bednar unhittable en route to CWS crown

July 1st, 2021
CWS Most Outstanding Player Will Bednar did not allow a hit over six innings in the finale.John Peterson/AP

The narrative entering Wednesday’s decisive Game 3 of the College World Series Finals was the big game record of Vanderbilt ace Kumar Rocker. But Will Bednar stole the show, showing he can handle the big moments too.

Bednar, a sophomore right-hander for Mississippi State and MLB Pipeline’s 32nd-ranked Draft prospect, put up six hitless innings against Vandy and claimed CWS Most Outstanding Player honors as the Bulldogs routed the Commodores, 9-0, and captured the school’s first College World Series title. Mississippi State pitchers carried a no-hit bid through 7 1/3 innings and one-hit Vandy on the night. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ lineup jumped on Rocker (MLB Pipeline’s No. 6 Draft prospect) for five runs (four earned) across 4 1/3 innings.

Rocker had been a perfect 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 41 strikeouts in three previous College World Series elimination-game starts prior to Wednesday. Mississippi State outfielder Tanner Allen (MLB Pipeline’s No. 137 prospect) went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Designated hitter Kellum Clark led the Bulldogs' offense with three RBIs out of the eighth spot in the order.

While Bednar had the whole country watching him dominate Wednesday, he was on top of his game throughout Mississippi State’s run to the title. His final line across the 2021 College World Series included a 1.47 ERA, 26 strikeouts and a .084 batting average allowed across 18 1/3 innings.

The younger brother of Pirates reliever David Bednar, Will’s fastball sits in the mid 90s and can top out around 97 with life and ride through the zone. Vanderbilt’s lineup went 0-for-9 against Bednar’s fastball Wednesday, and hitters overall went just 4-for-35 across the College World Series in Omaha. Both Bednar’s heater and slider are rated a 60 by MLB Pipeline on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale, and the slider was arguably even more impressive Wednesday.

After overcoming biceps tendinitis in 2019 and pitching only 15 1/3 innings as a freshman in ’20, Bednar’s red-hot pitching down the stretch could help his name get called on Day 1 of the 2021 Draft (July 11 at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). But that possibility was probably at the back of his mind Wednesday night. After 11 previous College World Series appearances without a title, Mississippi State is finally the national champion.