Durkin crushes two as Hudson Valley rolls in Summer Finale

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 28, 2023

Hudson Valley’s John Esposito rips a triple leading off the third inning.

By Joe Hofmann

Back … back … back …

US Elite PA left fielder Alex Willig drifted toward the Diamond Nation fence and ran out of room. Hudson Valley Select’s Kayden Durkin sent a ball sailing over his head, over the warning track, and over the fence.

Most 15-year-olds struggle to hit a baseball to the fence, let alone over it.

But not Durkin.

He did it against US Elite.


Hudson Valley’s cleanup man was 3-for-3 with two home runs, a double, and six RBI to lift his team to an 8-4 victory in a 15U Summer Finale tournament game.

Durkin put on a three at-bat hitting clinic.

When he got hold of a pitch, he sent it into orbit. When he didn’t get hold of one, he still hit it out. And when he got two strikes on him, he choked up and went the other way with it for an opposite-field double.

“My goal is to hit the ball to the opposite field so I don’t swing too early,” Durkin said.

While Durkin’s hitting floored US Elite and its fans, none of this came as a surprise to Hudson Valley.

“He’s done it every place we have gone,” coach Randy Delanoy said. “He’s a really good contact hitter – with power. He spreads the ball all over the field.”

True to his coach’s words, Durkin exhibited hitting ability far beyond those in his age group.

Indeed, he hits the ball to all fields. And he did it with power. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound first baseman-pitcher isn’t on a seek-and-destroy mission at the plate. He is a thinking man’s hitter who adjusts in the batter’s box.

That is exactly what he did in each of his three at bats.

In the top of the first, the right-handed hitter put his team ahead with a long double to right center to knock in teammate D.J. Aviles, who led off the game by legging out an infield hit.

The double went according to Durkin’s blueprint: Wait back … go the other way if need be … don’t try and pull everything.

“I used my two-strike approach,” he said. “I choked up on the bat and hit a line drive over the second baseman’s head and it just carried.”

In both of his ensuing at bats, he exhibited monstrous, grown-man power. Durkin pulled the ball in each of them and sent the ball for a long, long ride.

In the third, teammates Lance Morgan (double) and Alex Jendras (walk) reached base before Durkin sent a towering bomb over Willig’s head.

“The first one, I didn’t get any of the barrel on it and it was off the end of the bat,” he said. “It just carried.”

In the fifth, he swung at a low pitch and sent it over the fence again. He knew he got all of that one on impact. That round-tripper came after Morgan reached on an infield hit and was tripled home by Jendias.

“I barreled that one up and knew it was gone,” the soft-spoken Durkin said.

As good as he is as a hitter, he is a humble one. He didn’t flip his bat or call attention to himself.

“I just smiled around the bases,” he said. “I never pimp. Just swing and start running.”

Durkin is a sophomore-to-be at Beacon High School in New York. As a freshman, he played on the junior varsity team and batted .415 with three home runs, six doubles and a triple.

Beacon varsity coach John Sarci, be warned: Durkin is coming.

He wants to someday play college baseball on the D-1 level and ultimately become a big leaguer.

Until then, he’ll be the hub of the Hudson Valley lineup. His output against US Elite helped make a winner out of reliever Brandon Jenkins, who got out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the second and pitched into the fifth.

Three more relievers – Durkin included – combined to finish the game.

For the record, Durkin walked two and gave up a hit and two runs while facing four hitters.

But his hitting more than made up for it.

“We have great team chemistry,” Delanoy said. “The kids play together and never give up.”

The team went 26-7 this summer, with championships in three different states (Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Virginia).

“We have hard-working kids and dedicated families,” Delanoy said. “The kids practice five days a week and they put a lot of work in during the offseason.”

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *