GEORGETOWN — It’s rare in college sports that a team reaches the national championship in back-to-back years, but Georgetown’s Ryan Browner and the University of Southern Maine baseball team pulled off the feat over the weekend when the Huskies competed in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships in Appleton, Wisc.
Last year the Huskies were eliminated after suffering a 4-1 loss to Linfield (Ore.) in the 2013 final. This year Huskies took a beating in their first game, losing 8-1 to Wisconsin-Whitewater, before rebounding to beat both Salisbury on Saturday afternoon and Baldwin-Wallace on Sunday before losing to Emory in the semifinal game, ending their season with a 37-15 record.
Regardless, the fact that Southern Maine returned to the Final Four is a feat in itself. Only eight teams make the NCAA Tournament New England Regional, but there are 12 to 15 teams good enough to make it.
“Eastern Connecticut, who won (the Little East Conference), ended up going two and out in the NCAA Regional,” Browner said. “They beat us three times during the season. It just shows the depth of the conference. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. There are only so many places in the region.”
The Huskies, who lost in the Little East Championship game to Eastern Connecticut, battled back to take the NCAA Tournament New England Region title over Endicott College, losing 7-6 in the first game but rebounding emphatically for an 11-1 win in the championship.
Players in any sport often say they’ll do anything to help the team. Sometimes it’s just talk, but Browner brings it to another level. At Georgetown High School, he was a four-time Cape Ann League All-Star and led the Royals to the MIAA Division 4 State Championship.
Browner could really throw, but when he came to Southern Maine, head coach Ed Flaherty, now in his 29th season, had plans for him. A starter throughout his career at Georgetown, Browner would now throw in relief.