By Phil Anastasia
For Nick Browne, the University of Maryland was the best of three worlds: A big-time baseball program that is a managable distance from home with some familiar faces on the roster.
Browne, a junior outfielder at Bishop Eustace who leads South Jersey in home runs with nine, on Monday night committed to attend Maryland on a baseball scholarship.
Browne also seriously considered Duke, Lafayette and Penn.
"I wasn't stressing about it but it was tough making a decision," Browne said. "They're all great schools.
"It came down to the best decision for me. Maryland is an easy drive for my brother and mother to come down and see me play, and they have a great business school and that's something that I'm very interested in."
Browne, a top student, said he narrowed his final choice down to Maryland and Duke. He opted for the Terrapins in part because of the proximity of the campus, his relationship with Maryland coach John Szefc and the strength of the business school.
But Brown said another factor was the pipeline that Szefc seems to be building from South Jersey to College Park, Md.
Maryland currently has freshmen Mike Shawaryn (Gloucester Catholic) and Nick Cieri (Rancocas Valley) on the roster, and already had received a commitment from another standout from the class of 2015, Gloucester Catholic junior John Murphy.
Shawaryn, a right-hander pitcher, has started 12 games and is 8-3 with a 3.12 ERA. Cieri, a catcher, has started 24 games, played in 34 and is hitting .205.
Maryland is 28-19 overall, including a 12-14 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland will join the Big Ten next year.
"They must like South Jersey players because they keep coming back," Browne said. "It's nice to know that you won't be by yourself. I'll be going down with Murph and that's somebody I know I can turn to.
"And with Shawaryn and Cieri already down there, I know they'll have my back because they're South Jersey guys too. It just adds to the comfort level."
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org