Greiner savors College World Series, looks to future

USC freshman and Blythewood High School graduate Grayson Greiner fields a bunt.

OMAHA, Neb. – Just before the NCAA baseball postseason started, nothing was guaranteed for University of South Carolina freshman Grayson Greiner.

After the conclusion of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., Greiner underwent surgery on his left knee to repair damage to his lateral meniscus. He was forced to sit out the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals as the healing process on his knee took place.

But when the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., rolled around, the Blythewood High alum was right back where he always was – playing catcher for the Gamecocks.

Greiner played in all seven games for USC during the 2012 CWS, including five straight starts behind the plate to close out the tournament.

“The first game against Florida, I knew Dante (Rosenberg) was going to start (at catcher) but I kind of had a feeling I would come in at some point in the game,” Greiner said.

“When (USC coach Ray Tanner) told me to grab a bat and get loose, it was pretty cool knowing that it was going to be my first time ever playing in Omaha and it kind of gave me butterflies playing in front of 24,000 people against the number one team in the country.”

Greiner finished the CWS with a pair of hits, an RBI and the only run scored during USC’s first championship series match-up with Arizona on Sunday. The Gamecocks lost two in the championship series to the Wildcats, falling 5-1 on Sunday and 4-1 on Monday.

While the school’s bid for a third straight NCAA baseball championship fell short, the two-week long experience was something the freshman from Blythewood will not soon forget.

“Everyone treats you a lot differently out here and the atmosphere is unbelievable before games, after games, during games. You see beach balls and the wave going on in the outfield and it’s pretty crazy,” Greiner said.

“Growing up watching all the tradition out here in Omaha and to actually get to play in the games is very special.”

Greiner says he’s still doing rehab on his knee but is showing no ill effects of the surgery. He says he’s close to 100 percent and doesn’t have any pain in the knee.

And that’s a good thing because his baseball season is going to go on for another few months.

Greiner was selected to play for the Team USA collegiate baseball squad this summer. He’ll join the team in the next few weeks. After several weeks competing in North Carolina against all-star squads and collegiate summer league teams, Greiner and the USA squad will travel to Havana, Cuba, to play the Cuba national collegiate team, July 5-9 and then to the Netherlands to play in the Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week, July 14-22. While in the Netherlands, the team will play Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands among others.

Former Gamecock standouts like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Justin Smoak were members of Team USA. Both went on to be first-round draft selections in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.

Greiner realizes the company he is in and calls the chance to play with a national team “pretty humbling” and “a big shock.”

“I feel very honored to be on that team, hearing some of the history of who all has been on that team and some of the players from South Carolina that have been on that team,” Greiner said.

Alex Riley is a sportswriter at the

Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne, Wyo. He is a 2004 graduate of Ridge View High School and a 2008 graduate of the University of South Carolina.