April 10, 2019

PHS Baseball Showing Resilience, Lifted by Durbin’s Hitting, Leadership

TED TALK: Princeton High baseball star Teddy Durbin fires a pitch in a game last year. Senior first baseman/pitcher Durbin has been making an impact with his bat so far this spring. Last week, Durbin hit triples in consecutive games for the Tigers, who are now 2-3. In upcoming action, PHS hosts WW/P-South on April 10 and Allentown on April 12, plays at Princeton Day School on April 13, and then hosts Nottingham on April 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Teddy Durbin has found a comfort level as he has moved into the number two spot in the batting order for the Princeton High baseball team this spring.

“I am mainly a fastball hitter, that is what I am best at,” said the senior first baseman/pitcher Durbin. “In the two spot, you usually get a first pitch fastball which is ideal for me.”

Last Wednesday against visiting Piscataway, Durbin got PHS started in the first inning, stroking a single and then coming around to score after an error, balk and wild pitch.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” said Durbin. “He was throwing first pitch fastballs and just looking for a ball I could hit to the outfield and get on first base.”

With PHS trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Durbin slashed a triple to right center to plate two runs and make it a 5-3 game.

“I was just trying to look the other way and pick out the gap and I got a good piece of it,” said Durbin, reflecting on the hit.

The Tigers narrowed the gap to 5-4 later in the inning on a double by Guatam Chawla but couldn’t get any closer than that as Piscataway went on to an 8-4 victory.

While Durbin had hoped for a different result, he liked the fight displayed by PHS.

“The team showed some good resilience there, which is promising for the rest of the season,” said Durbin.

“It means that we are the type of team that doesn’t give up which is key for county and state runs.”

After a run to Mercer County Tournament semifinals last spring, PHS is looking to peak in the postseason.

“For the returning guys, it is a big deal; one of our main goals is to get a state win which we haven’t done yet here,” said Durbin, who is headed to Colby College where he will be competing for its Division III baseball program. “I think everybody is motivated and ready to go.”

Serving as captain along with classmates Tommy Reid and Ben Amon, Durbin has enjoyed taking a larger role in motivating his teammates this spring.

“It has definitely been fun, we all complement each other well,” said Durbin. “We mesh together well.”

The Tigers have been meshing well with new head coach Dom Capuano. “It has been a little different at times,” said Durbin. “He is a great coach, I have known him since seventh grade. It is good for us.”

Capuano, for his part, likes the good work he is getting from Durbin. “Teddy is doing well; he is one of the few bats right now that when you see him come up, you are pretty confident that he is going to do the right job,” said Capuano. “He is doing a good job but we need everyone else around him to rally through.”

Although the PHS rally fell short against Piscataway, Capuano is encouraged by his squad’s play in the early going.

“It was good to see the comeback and it was good to see that we can hit,” said Capuano. “We just didn’t execute. We didn’t do it when we needed to do. We ran ourselves out of an inning. It is a good start.”

Senior righty pitcher Amon gave PHS a good start, woking into the fifth inning after getting hit on his pitching arm with a line drive in the third.

“He came out and competed,” said Capuano. “We are going to lean on him all year. It was good to see he came back. I was going to take him  out but he asked to stay in. When you have a senior leader who you can rely on, you let him fight through that.”

In Capuano’s view, PHS has the pieces in place to be competitive this spring.

“We are old on the mound and young everywhere else; it is a good mix,” said Capuano, whose team moved to 2-3 with an 11-0 loss to Notre Dame on Monday and hosts WW/P-South on April 10 and Allentown on April 12, plays at Princeton Day School on April 13, and then hosts Nottingham on April 15.

“If the pitching can continue to keep us in these games, our hitting and fielding will come around.”

Durbin shares Capuano’s confidence about the prospects for the Tigers. “I would say this game showed a lot of positives and some negatives,” said Durbin.

“It is a good stepping stone where we can have a game and take some things that we did well and need to continue for the rest of the season.”