Hun Grad Murdock Contributed With Arm, Bat As Post 218 Baseball Produced Solid 7-5 Finish
SHOWING HIS STUFF: Chris Murdock delivers a pitch in a game this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Murdock, a recently graduated Hun School star, helped Post 218 go 7-5 in its final 12 games of the season as it bounced back from a 0-10 start. Last week, Murdock got the win on the mound in a 5-2 win over North Hamilton on July 9 and then contributed a hit as Post 218 defeated Ewing 5-3 a day later in its season finale to end with a final record of 7-15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
When the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team started the summer 0-10, things could have fallen apart for the squad.
Instead, the Post 218 players bonded, going 7-5 over the final 12 games of the campaign.
“It was getting to know everybody as a team chemistry-wise because we definitely had the talent going into it,” said recently graduated Hun star Chris Murdock, a starting pitcher and infielder/outfielder for Post 218.
“We just really didn’t know anyone at the start of it and everybody had things to do at the end of the school year. Once we finally got together, we started playing as a team. We really figured it out and started making a run for it.”
With Princeton coming off a 5-2 win over North Hamilton on July 9, Murdock and his teammates were confident of ending the season on a high note when they played at Ewing Post 319 the next day in their season finale.
“We had all of the momentum coming into this game; we knew that we weren’t going to lose, no matter what,” asserted Murdock. “We also had [Teddy] Durbin going on the mound; he is one of our better pitchers.”
With Durbin producing a solid outing as he gave up a run in 4 2/3 innings and Murdock contributing a hit as Post 218 took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Princeton pulled away to a 5-3 win to post a final record of 7-15.
“It was a good game, we just kept battling,” said Murdock. “We got that one inning where we were able to put up three runs (the top of the sixth) and from there we knew that we had it.”
For Murdock, who is heading to Union College where he will be joining its Division III baseball program, playing for Post 218 this summer gave him a chance to hone his skills.
“It was pretty good. It was fun to get out on the field because, for Hun, I didn’t really get to do that,” said Murdock.
“I got a lot of at-bats and I played left field and second base. I pitched yesterday against North Hamilton and had a good game there. It comes down to my defense; they are always behind me. If the other team gets a hit, I know they will be there to back me up. It is giving me reps, pitching-wise, in the field, and hitting.”
Princeton manager 218 Tommy Parker was proud of the way his players kept fighting to the final out.
“I am satisfied because they stuck it out to the end,” said Parker. “We had a nice win last night and we got this one, so it is two in a row. I hope these guys learned something. We had a great group of guys and I think we laid a foundation.”
In assessing the team’s slow start, Parker noted that Post 218 squandered some opportunities as the players got up to speed.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a few times; we had a lot of one-run losses,” lamented Parker.
“We left a lot of runners on base and then it started to coming together. The difference is that I think these guys started adjusting. Even for those who had played before, it is always about the speed of the game here. It is even different than what they are exposed to in high school.”
Parker credited the mound work of Murdock and Durbin with helping to spark Post 218’s strong finish.
“The pitching has been pretty good all season; we have had a couple of games where they might have been a little flat,” said Parker. “Murdock had some excellent games. Teddy was very good.”
Noting that the squad gets most of its players from three high schools, Princeton High, Princeton Day School, and Hun, Parker realizes that it takes time for guys to develop a good comfort level with each other. “The chemistry comes on the field; it comes after you are out here,” said Parker.
“We have a draw from three high schools so you get the cream of the crop, the best of the best. The younger ones that come up get a great experience and it carries over to their next high school season.”
Looking ahead, Parker is confident that the strong finish this summer will carry over to the 2019 campaign.
“I absolutely think we could be in the playoff hunt next year,” maintained Parker. “We had more one-run losses than any team in the league and we had some big wins. Looking at our on-base totals and what actually scored, if you turn that around a little bit, we are at 12 or 13 wins, maybe more.”
Murdock, for his part, believes that Post 218 can be a winning program.
“Hopefully we are going to be able to see everybody back next year and we can keep going with this progress to make a possible playoff run,” said Murdock.