The competitiveness between them is matched only by their care for one another.
Nick Decker of Seneca High School and Dylan Decker of Bishop Eustace are two of the top junior baseball players in South Jersey playing for two of the best programs in the area.
And when the cousins play against each other twice a season, they naturally want to win - while they pull for each other to do well.
“I remember last year, he hit a double off the wall and I was playing outfield and he was at second base and we both looked at each other and I told him good swing,” Nick said. “We are playing against each other, but we are still family and I just give credit where credit is due.”
“Even if we are playing against each other, we are still cheering for each other,” Dylan said.
Nick and Dylan, who are often confused as brothers, will play against each other again on April 18 at Bishop Eustace in Pennsauken, which is where both of their fathers grew up and played football for coach Vince McAneney.
“Anytime I get to play Nick is something I look forward to, the whole family is there,” Dylan said. “Nick’s friends are a lot of my friends, so it is cool for all of us.”
The Crusaders are 4-0 going into Saturday’s game against Cherokee. The Golden Eagles are 3-1 after a 17-7 win over Washington Township on Wednesday.
Nick and Dylan will play against each other for the second time this season on May 12 at Seneca.
“We both have a competitive nature,” Nick said. “Being able to compete against each other makes us get better.”
Nick is the son of David and Stacy and they live in Southampton. Dylan is the son of Pat and Janine and they live in Springfield, which is in the Northern Burlington school district.
They both are powerful hitters. Nick is 6-foot and 200 pounds while Dylan is 5-11 and 195 pounds. They certainly could pass for brothers on the diamond where they play the game old-school tough and punish the baseball at the plate, but instead call them “The Crushin’ Cousins.”
“People sometimes think we are brothers and its pretty funny,” Nick said.
“We don’t think we look like each other, but pretty much everyone thinks we are brothers,” Dylan said.
Although Nick bats left and plays the outfield and Dylan bats right and plays the infield, they both look the same in their respective team's box score where they rack up hits.
As sophomores last year, Nick batted .318 and Dylan posted a .444 batting average.
They both are also accomplished pitchers, although they don’t look like each other on the mound as Nick is a southpaw starter for Seneca coach Jay Donoghue while Dylan is a righty reliever for Crusaders coach Sam Tropiano.
Their differences on the baseball field also extend off the field, where they aren’t usually teammates either.
“At family parties, we play wiffle ball against each other, ping pong in the basement, it is always competitive,” Nick said. “It is fun, we go at each other.”
However, they work out together often in the offseason in the batting cages.
“Even hitting indoors, to be able to hit against each other is great,” Nick said.
“We push each other, but it is out of fun,” Dylan said. “
Nick committed last year to the University of Maryland, where he was recruited as an outfielder, and chose the Terps over scholarship offers from Virginia and Vanderbilt.
Nick, who moved over this season to center from right field, said a goal of his is to get drafted out of high school.
“I just got to work hard and hope for the best and let the chips fall where they fall,” Nick said.
“It is pretty cool we’ve been playing against each other, growing up together forever, just to see where he’s been and how hard he has worked and how good he got is pretty cool,” Dylan said. “”Its good seeing all the hard work pay off for him.”
Dylan hasn’t “narrowed down” his college choices yet, saying “hopefully this summer I will have a better idea.”
When asked if there is any chance he would join his cousin at Maryland, he said, “there is always a chance, yeah.”
Last summer, they played on the same team - All Out Baseball. And they played as 12-year-olds for a season with the powerful Tri-State Arsenal baseball program.
“We played at Cooperstown together,” Dylan said.
Nick and Dylan split playing against each other last year. Both teams won at home.
“I think its fun,” Nick said, “if he is playing second or third and I’m on the base, I get to talk to him a little bit.”
“It is fun to play against him,” Dylan said, “I look forward to it.“
It is fun to see cousins compete against each other and care for each other with similar passion.