The last time that Dylan Maltby was behind the plate in a baseball game at Mulcahy Stadium prior to Wednesday was just over a full calendar year ago. He was the starting catcher for the South Anchorage Wolverines and helped his alma mater cap off an undefeated season with a Division I high school state championship.
In his first game back at Mulcahy, the 2021 Alaska high school baseball Gatorade Player of the Year played a vital role in the Anchorage Bucs’ 1-0 victory over the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, in the first matchup of the season between the Alaska Baseball League rivals.
“It’s nothing new really,” Maltby said. “It’s still baseball. I still got to come out and do the same job I did in high school but at a higher level with guys who are way more competitive.”
Maltby is back for the summer after his freshman year at Hesston College in Kansas. The Bucs’ first game of the season Tuesday on the road against the Mat-Su Miners ended in a 5-5 tie after being suspended due to darkness.
“I kind of slowed the game down myself a little bit,” Maltby said. “Yesterday it got a little fast for me and I didn’t have the best day. Slowing the game down really helps keep the emotions in check. I’m a passionate player when I play the game and sometimes you have to control those emotions, or else it gets out of hand.”
While the pitchers usually get most of the credit for a shutout, Bucs head coach Ken Hokuf praised Maltby, his outfield and the team’s stout overall defensive performance.
“Today was a good, tight battle, and we got the pitching when we needed and got some really clutch defense,” Hokuf said. “I’m really excited and looking forward to what those guys turn into.”
Maltby said it felt good to be at home in front of people he grew up with while factoring in his team’s success.
“It was definitely pretty cool to be able to catch a full nine (innings) and be able to contribute to the win,” Maltby said.
He played his first collegiate season at the junior college level and is still adjusting to playing with and competing against players at various levels in the ABL. That includes a number of players from NCAA Division I, where he says the athletes “throw harder, hit the ball harder, run faster.”
“He is seeing some velocity that he hasn’t seen, and he hasn’t caught in over a month,” Hokuf said. “Not knowing how pitchers’ balls move and things like that, it’s difficult.”
Maltby said his first year playing in college featured ups and downs as his team struggled to find success, although he believed he “played really well throughout the season.”
“We finished 18-30, not a great record for baseball, didn’t qualify for the region tournament or postseason afterwards, so I was back here really early,” Maltby said. “I think I got back on May 15, so that was really disappointing.”
Even though his father, Shawn, is the general manager of the Bucs, it didn’t take much convincing to get Maltby back home and involved with the Alaska Baseball League.
“Being home for the summer is amazing,” Maltby said. “I love Alaska in the summer. The winter on the other hand, I don’t know about that.”
The Pilots outhit the Bucs 6-5, but the only run of the game came during the top of the fourth inning. Alex Champagne, who plays collegiately at Arizona State, sprinted to home plate on a sacrifice fly to help the Bucs gain their first win of the season.
“Yesterday was a full game also, but unfortunately we didn’t get to finish it,” Hokuf said. “I thought we were going to come out of there with that one too.”
A schedule of upcoming games can be found on the Alaska Baseball League website at alaskabaseballleague.org.