Matty Fung admits the rivalry between his Sylvan Lake Gulls and the Okotoks Dawgs is heating up.
The product of Foster City, California was with the Gulls in 2022 for their tremendous regular season, only to be thwarted by the Dawgs in the playoffs.
The two teams have already seen each other four times this summer, and with both looking to head back to the West Division final, players in both dugouts know how important it will be to set the tone.
Fung is doing his part, hitting .467 through his first five games, with two runs batted in, two runs scored and five stolen bases, as he looks to improve on last season where he hit .254 with 12 RBI, 22 runs scored and 15 swipes.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound utilityman is also hoping to show he’s over an early-spring injury, that affected his performance at Santa Barbara City College, where he hit .239 with two home runs, 14 RBI and 11 stolen bags.
The University of San Francisco Dons commit joined us recently on Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast, where he answered these questions and more.
1. Welcome back to Sylvan Lake. How are you enjoying the first couple of weeks back?
I’m enjoying it. It’s super-fun out here, on and off the field, especially when we get to play in front of 1,500 fans every night. I’m just looking forward to another great summer.
2. Being from California, was there any trepidation about coming to Canada that first time, and beyond that, was it what you expected it to be?
I was a little hesitant coming to Canada because I had never been out of the country to play baseball. I didn’t know anyone up here yet. Once I got here, the team took me in, the ownership was great, the coaching staff welcomed me with open arms and the team last year … we all got along real quick. On our roadtrips and even at home, we bonded outside the baseball field, too.
3. As we record this episode, you’re hitting .462 with five stolen bases. What’s working well for you?
Being at the top of the lineup, I’m just trying to be aggressive at the plate, not take too many strikes, and work the count and I’ll draw the walks where I can. I’m not going to be a guy hitting the ball over the fence. I know I need to keep the ball on the ground and on the line, and just find any way to get to first. Once I get to first, I’m looking to steal right away and let the guys behind me drive me in.
4. It feels like there might be some unfinished business from last year, as you had a great season but fell short in the playoffs. How driven are you to get over the hump, take out the Dawgs, and win a championship?
We’re definitely looking to get to the championship this year and win it all. I don’t know, Ben Prediger promised our fans that we were going to win the championship. I’m not going to make any promises, but we do look stronger look this year as a whole team. Our pitching staff has been dominant the first four games and our bats are going to start waking up these next few weeks.
5. You announced back in November that you’re “coming home” as you will be joining the University of San Francisco Dons, which is just down the road from your hometown of Foster City, California. How excited are you to be able to play in front of close friends and family, and also continue your baseball journey there?
I’m super-excited. I’ve been away for quite a while, starting at Boise State, not playing at all, then two years at Santa Barbara. And then just getting back home, I love being able to play family and friends. It gives me more confidence when I see them up in the stands. Hopefully, I can keep playing after USF. That’s my goal is to play professional baseball one day.
6. Time for a couple of quick-hitters: what is your favourite ball park food?
It would probably be a nice slice of pepperoni pizza.
7. What is your favourite ballpark, whether it be one you played at or one you’ve been a fan at?
Spectating, I really enjoyed going to Fenway Park in Boston. Playing, I’d have to say honestly, Sylvan Lake.
8. What is your favourite TV series that you can’t just help but binge?
I like watching the reality show called Survivor. I like the competition. I’m a very competitive person and I just enjoy watching people competing for money.
9. What does the game of baseball mean to you?
Baseball means everything to me. I grew up playing baseball starting at the age of four or five. I just love this game. I don’t think I would be able to live life without baseball, honestly. Baseball has been with me my whole life and it’s gotten me into college and it has let me travel the world and see different places I wouldn’t have seen had I not been playing baseball.