Notebook: Team USA beckons Greiner to the plate

Catcher to take advantage of second invite after last year’s knee injury

nwhite@thestate.comApril 25, 2013 

Grayson Greiner hopes the second time is a charm.

South Carolina’s sophomore catcher was invited last season to play for the USA Baseball collegiate national team, but he couldn’t participate due to his recovery from a knee injury. He learned this week that he’ll get another chance to play for Team USA, which will train from late June to early July.

“I’m very honored to be picked,” said Greiner, who is hitting .307 with three homers and 28 RBIs this season. “It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime, and I can’t wait.”

The nation’s top college players will travel to Japan from July 6-11 and are scheduled to play Cuba from July 18-23 in various cites in the United States.

USC coach Chad Holbrook called Greiner a great representative as well as the best defensive catcher in the country.

“I haven’t seen anyone with his ability behind the plate. I think it’s unmatched. I’ve very proud of him. He’s a great kid. He’s got a great baseball demeanor,” Holbrook said.

Former USC players to receive this honor are Jackie Bradley (2010), Justin Smoak (2007), Matt Campbell (2003), Landon Powell (2002), Adam Everett (1997), Brian Williams (1989) and Dave Hollins (1986).

In the box

No player on the current USC roster has faced LSU at Alex Box Stadium. The Gamecocks last traveled to Baton Rouge in 2008. The players are ready to experience playing in one of the top college ballparks in the nation along with Carolina Stadium.

“I haven’t seen it yet. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere,” senior closer Tyler Webb said.

Senior Nolan Belcher, the Friday night starter, agreed about facing the No. 2 Tigers on their home turf.

“They’re always tough every year,” Belcher said. “I’ve heard all the stories about playing in Alex Box Stadium. Hopefully, we can rise to the occasion.”

Holbrook said LSU’s 38-4 record — 26-1 at home — and 15-3 SEC mark “is hard to do.”

“It’s a huge challenge for us,” he said. “It’s also a great opportunity for our team.”

Holbrook previews LSU series

South Carolina at LSU

WHEN: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.

WHERE: Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.

TV: ESPN, Sunday

RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5

SERIES: LSU leads 31-22-1

LAST MEETING: LSU won two-of-three last season

RECORDS: USC 31-11, 11-7 SEC; LSU 38-4, 15-3

RANKINGS: USC is No. 15, and LSU is No. 2 in the Baseball America Top 25

PITCHING MATCHUPS: Friday, USC LHP Nolan Belcher, Sr., 6-3, 1.70 vs. LSU RHP Aaron Nola, Soph., 7-0, 2.15; Saturday, USC LHP Jordan Montgomery, Soph., 3-0, 1.14 vs. LSU RHP Ryan Eades, Jr., 7-1, 2.56; Sunday, USC TBA vs. LSU TBA

NOTES: LSU has won nine of the past 11 meetings against the Gamecocks over the past five seasons. USC last won a series against the Tigers in 2007. … Alex Bregman (.412, 5 HRs, 41 RBIs) and Mason Katz (.390, 13 HR, 60 RBIs) lead the LSU offense. … Nolan Belcher is tied for first in the SEC with 10 starts, and Tyler Webb is tied for first in the SEC with 12 saves. … LB Dantzler leads USC in batting average (.340), runs (33), hits (51), doubles (12), home runs (12), RBIs (42), slugging percentage (.673), walks (28) and on-base percentage (.449).

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