'He's just an animal': Dynamic senior shortstop has Morton baseball rolling
MORTON — Beau Durbin pours his heart and soul into the game of baseball every time he puts on his Morton uniform.
The 6-foot, 175-pound senior shortstop put together an incredible regular season for the Potters (29-7). Durbin finished with a .486 batting average, six home runs, 11 doubles, 43 RBIs, 50 runs and 23 stolen bases. His performance in the postseason has been even more remarkable.
Durbin had a triple, four RBIs and scored twice in an 11-7 Class 3A regional semifinal win over Limestone. On Saturday, he helped power host Morton to a 14-4 win over East Peoria to claim the regional championship. Durbin was 3-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs. Morton will face Rock Island in a sectional semifinal at Washington, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“I just try to stay up the middle and get good pitches that I can hit," Durbin said. "I always work counts, and try not to swing at anything bad early on."
East Peoria led 4-0 after one inning of the regional final, but an RBI single from Durbin in the bottom of the second tied the game 4-4 — and was the spark that Morton needed. Ethan Hurst (3 RBIs) and Braylan Smith (2 RBIs) each had home runs, while Tate Roley (3 RBIs), Thomas Krueger (RBI) and Nolan Turner each added two hits.
“Now is the right time (for our team) to get hot," Durbin said. "So now we just have to keep going.”
Morton coach Jesse Crawford has loved having Durbin on his team due to his strong work ethic, leadership and dedication. Crawford likes his "swagger and confidence," and said Durbin meets the standards of an “all-time great” Morton baseball player. That's saying something for a program with a pair of state championships to go with a runner-up trophy, five sectionals and 12 regionals.
“We have a very young team, and Beau just has that calming effect on our pitchers,” Crawford said. “I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and (Beau) would start somewhere on the field on my all-time team. He’s just an animal.”
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Crawford said players like Durbin and Thomas Krueger have consistently come up big in big games for Morton, which took second in the Mid-Illini Conference and then added its fourth regional since 2017.
"These guys," Crawford said, "are breaking all-time offensive stat records in Morton school history."
Durbin credits a lot of his success to conditioning from basketball season. Durbin, an all-state point guard, is one of the fastest guys on the floor and prides himself on his hustle, something that translates to baseball, as well.
“It keeps me in shape, and helps add speed,” Durbin added. “Speed is a huge part for me in baseball (like basketball), I try to stretch singles into doubles. But basketball keeps me busy and keeps my mind on sports.”
Once Durbin is finished with high school, he’ll be continuing his baseball career at Illinois Central College, where he recently committed. But Durbin has higher expectations to play at the Division-I level.
“I really thought (ICC) was the right fit for me,” said Durbin. “Making the stop to ICC first will help develop me before I’m hopefully a D-I player. I still have things I would like to work on.”
John Komosa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jkom91.