July 26, 2017

PHS Baseball Standout Durbin Comes Up Big, Helping West Windsor Babe Ruth to State Title  

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Teddy Durbin delivers a pitch for the West Windsor-Plainsboro Babe Ruth 15-year-old All Stars last week in the Southern New Jersey state tournament. Last Friday, rising Princeton High junior Durbin got the win on the mound as West Windsor-Plainsboro defeat Hamilton-Northern Burlington 7-4 to win the crown. West Windsor will now compete in the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Naskayunk, N.Y. with that tourney wrapping up this weekend.

Teddy Durbin celebrated his 16th birthday last Sunday but he already received a special gift two days earlier.

Pitching for the West Windsor-Plainsboro Babe Ruth 15-year-old All Stars, rising Princeton High junior Durbin helped the squad defeat Hamilton-Northern Burlington 7-4 as the program captured its first ever Southern New Jersey state title.

West Windsor will now compete in the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Naskayunk, N.Y. with that tourney wrapping up this weekend.

In Durbin’s view, a special team chemistry helped fuel the run to the state crown.

“I think just from last year where we had started actually combining the Plainsboro, West Windsor and Princeton kids, we weren’t totally bonding with each other as much,” said Durbin, who was joined by fellow Princeton resident Judd Petrone on the team that includes West Windsor, Princeton, Plainsboro, and Cranbury players as the Princeton Babe Ruth merged its charter with West Windsor Plainsboro Babe Ruth about five years ago.

“Going into this year, we knew each other better and we were more comfortable and that made it easier to win.”

For Durbin, playing for the PHS varsity baseball program this spring gave him an extra comfort level when he hit the field for the Babe Ruth season.

“That was really good, it gave me a lot of experience that I didn’t really have before,” said Durbin, who pitched and played first base for PHS, earning the program’s top varsity pitcher award from the coaching staff.

“There were a lot of upperclassmen who really helped me develop throughout the year so that was a really good experience. I see pitching as my most important thing but I think this year I improved a lot on hitting just because of being able to play on the varsity team this year. That was pretty good.”

Durbin has seen a lot of action on the diamond this summer, playing for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion team and travel ball in addition to competing for West Windsor Babe Ruth.

“My travel team was really good this year because it is based in West Windsor and they made their schedule work around Babe Ruth,” said Durbin.

“I could only play legion ball during down times with Babe Ruth and travel; I tried to make as many games as I could. It is nonstop but it is the sport I love so it was a lot of fun.”

After placing third in the District One Tournament to earn the last spot in the state tourney, West Windsor gained momentum by defeating defending champion Millville 8-3 in its state opener.

“I could tell that the team wasn’t nervous and that we were ready to battle with a really good team,” said Durbin, who pitched five innings to get the win on the mound, giving up two hits and recording seven strikeouts with no earned runs.

“We showed up ready to play and it looked like we wanted it a little bit more than them. That was really important. Winning that first game against the defending champs gives everyone a confidence boost.”

The team posted a 7-2 win over Jersey Shore and a 3-1 victory over Hamilton-Northern Burlington to advance to the championship round of the double-elimination competition.

Taking the mound on Friday for the rematch against Hamilton-Northern Burlington, Durbin was looking to keep things simple.

“They felt more pressure since we beat them in the previous game,” said Durbin, who 5 2/3rd innings to get the victory,  giving up one earned run and striking out two.

“I was pitching to contact and letting my defense do the work and it paid off.”

After putting in so much hard work over the years, Durbin savored the title.

“It feels really good, it is great,” said Durbin, who had come close to winning state title with the Princeton Little League program as it placed third in the 2015 New Jersey Intermediate 50/70 tournament.

“Doing it with Judd especially was really good too because we had been together with Princeton before that since we were six or seven. The West Windsor guys were great too. We bonded really well together.”

Durbin feels the West Windsor squad is peaking at the right time. “For the past two years I have been on the team, this is the best we have played,” said Durbin.

“There have been a lot of clutch hits, the defense has picked up and our pitching has been really good this year.”

Coming into the regional, which features pool play followed by a playoff round, Durbin and his teammates believe they can be a title contender.

“We are definitely going in there trying to win and we think that the way the tournament is set up, we have a good shot to win,” said Durbin.

“Every team makes the playoff. We are going to try to not burn as many pitchers and save our arms. The quarterfinals are on Friday and then the semis and the finals are on Saturday. If we get in a good enough spot going into Friday and Saturday, we would be in really good shape.”

Looking ahead, Durbin is hoping to help PHS experience some playoff success next spring.

“Our whole starting rotation is returning; it is very possible that we can win double digit games this year,” said Durbin. “I think we can win our division too; it could be a big year for us.”