Baseball: Tyler Maylath makes big return to Downers Grove South mound, leads Mustangs past Downers Grove North

Junior right-hander, 16 months after Tommy John surgery, throws five strong innings in 2-1 win

Downers Grove South’s Tyler Maylath pitches during the game at Downers Grove South while taking on Downers Grove North on Saturday April 13, 2024.

DOWNERS GROVE – Tyler Maylath had two days to prepare for his start in the crosstown showdown April 13, but the buildup really was much longer for the Downers Grove South junior.

The right-handed pitcher had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in December 2022 and missed all of the 2023 high school season.

Maylath began a throwing program four months after surgery, making 10 to 15 throws from 40 feet away and slowly increasing the intensity. He was able to get back on a mound last summer and made his first start this spring on the Mustangs’ trip to California.

Maylath made quite a return to the Downers Grove mound April 13.

In his first start on Illinois soil in two years, Maylath shut down a potent Downers Grove North offense for five innings. It allowed the Mustangs to rally with two runs in the sixth to knock off the Trojans 2-1.

“I think it starts with preparation off the field and coming out on the field with confidence,” said Maylath, who said he got the call on Thursday that he’d be pitching Saturday. “I tried to be aggressive in the zone and let my defense do the rest.

“It was a great feeling. I have worked really hard in the offseason. It showed that all the hard work I have put in paid off.”

As fate would have it, Maylath perhaps only got the nod when weekday starter Kyle Martin recently went down with an injury. Maylath had made just two appearances this season before Saturday, the first in relief in the season opener.

He took the opportunity Saturday and ran with it.

Maylath needed only 71 pitches to navigate through five innings, allowing one run on two hits, one walk and one hit batter with four strikeouts.

“I think to me the key is getting him to understand that the fastball is his best pitch,” Downers Grove South coach Darren Orel said. “When you can locate it on both sides of the plate, you can change their eye levels a little bit and get them to put the ball in play.”

Maylath, who sat at 85 to 87 mph in the offseason with his fastball – topping out at 88 – echoed his coach’s assessment.

“Fastball, out and away, fastball at the knees,” Maylath said. “Just pounding the zone and letting my defense do the work.”

Downers Grove South’s Wyatt Wawro slides safe at home before the ball gets to Downers Grove North’s catcher Jimmy Janicki during the game on Saturday April 13, 2024.

Orel said he would have been happy to get four innings from Maylath. Maylath’s efficiency allowed Downers Grove South (6-5-1) to need only one inning of relief each from Wyatt Wawro and Will Potter.

“He will probably be our Saturday guy going forward,” Orel said. “We want to make sure he’s healthy and comfortable. It’s a long season.”

Downers Grove North (12-2) has roared out of the gate this season, scoring 10 or more runs in 10 of its 12 wins.

But the Trojans were fortunate to score at all Saturday.

In the third inning, Carlos Sanchez drew a one-out walk, went to second on a passed ball, took third on a pitch in the dirt and came home when the catcher’s throw to third sailed high.

Sanchez, Downers Grove North’s No. 9 hitter, had two of the Trojans’ three hits.

“I thought their pitcher did a good job. He commanded the zone and really didn’t give us any freebies,” Downers Grove North coach Kyle Briscoe said. “They made us earn what we got, did a nice job of keeping our hitters off balance. We never got any rhythm offensively and didn’t get any baserunners. You’re going to have days like that. I told my guys we’re not going to run the table. You have to find a way to win ballgames like that.”

Downers Grove South, held to only two hits through five innings against Downers Grove North pitchers Jimmy Reilly and Braylon Tomlinson, finally scratched across two runs in the sixth off sidearmer Frank Porcelli.

Wawro singled to lead off and Aaron Davis reached on a low throw to first that put runners on second and third. Sam Erickson’s squeeze scored the tying run and RJ Lube followed with a line drive single to bring in Howell.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play, honestly,” said Lube, who had singles in his last two at-bats. “I knew I had to do something now. Just wanted to make contact and it got through.”

Downers Grove North’s Jude Warwick receives the ball in time to get  Downers Grove South’s runner  Will Potter (6) but wasn’t able to turn a double play on Saturday April 13, 2024 held at Downers Grove South.

Orel likes the direction his team is headed. A week after an 11-1 loss to York, the Mustangs swept Willowbrook in a three-game series before the crosstown win.

“We’re playing better defense and pitching better. What we weren’t doing in California and against York,” Orel said. “You’re not going to hit every day, but you can play defense and throw strikes. If you do that, you’re going to be in most games.”

Downers Grove North, which had a school-record 32 wins in the 2023 season, fought to the end. Jimmy Janicki, who hit a walk-off homer in the regional final last year, hit a screamer to right in the sixth Saturday that was flagged down at the fence.

“Great start thus far,” Briscoe said. “Our motto is we’re trying to compete every day and get better. We have good senior leadership in Janicki and Jude Warwick and a bunch of juniors have stepped up and plugged some holes.”

Joshua  Welge

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.