COLUMBIA — South Carolina catcher Grayson Greiner is winding down a strong freshman season. He has a .284 batting average in Southeastern Conference play, and 12 of his 23 hits in league games have gone for extra bases, including three home runs. His .519 slugging percentage in league play ranks 10th in the SEC.
His accomplishments were recognized Monday, when he was named to USA Baseball’s collegiate national team. He is the ninth player in school history to make the team and follows first baseman Christian Walker last year and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in 2010. Before that, the last USC player to make the team was first baseman Justin Smoak in 2007.
Greiner’s best series came two weekends ago at Arkansas. He threw out five runners trying to steal and hit a two-run home run off Friday starter Ryne Stanek — the first homer allowed by Stanek all season. USC trailed 6-0 after three innings, before Greiner’s homer made it 6-5 in the sixth. USC won 8-6 in 10 innings.
USC’s Sunday starting pitcher, junior right-hander Colby Holmes, last threw April 22 at Auburn.
Then he injured his shoulder while stretching in practice before the next weekend’s series, against Alabama. He missed his starts against Alabama and Arkansas, and didn’t make the trip last weekend to Georgia, where Sunday’s game was cancelled because of rain. Holmes returns tonight against USC Upstate — the Gamecocks’ final non-conference game of the season — as his coaches try to determine if he is back to normal. He is 6-0 this season with a 3.29 earned-run average, 44 strikeouts and 12 walks.
The Gamecocks jumped from No. 4 to 2 in the Baseball America top 25 poll, released Monday. Their opponent in this weekend’s final regular season series, LSU, dropped from No. 3 to 9 after losing two of three last weekend to Vanderbilt, including a 5-4 defeat in 10 innings Sunday.
The loss brought LSU to its final series, which begins Thursday, with a 17-10 league record (.630 winning percentage), and chasing Kentucky (18-9, .667) and USC (17-9, .654) for the SEC regular season championship.
The SEC’s East division now has the No. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the Baseball America poll, because Florida jumped from No. 6 to No. 3 and Kentucky improved from No. 7 to No. 4. It is reminiscent of last season’s final poll, which also had three SEC East teams in the top four — USC at No. 1, Florida at No. 2 and Vanderbilt at No. 4.
Unlike polls, the Ratings Percentage Index actually factors into the NCAA tournament selection committee determining which eight teams receive national seeds.
Those teams are guaranteed to host a Regional and a Super Regional, if they advance that far. In the past 12 NCAA tournaments, 60 percent of national seeds advanced to the College World Series.
USC, which has won the past two national titles, received a national seed last season, but not in 2010. The Gamecocks currently find themselves sixth in the RPI calculated by WarrenNolan.com and seventh in the RPI calculated by BoydsWorld.com. If they win the LSU series, they likely will receive a national seed.