Fittingly, Grayson Greiner was the man in the spotlight during Saturday’s Senior Day baseball game at Blythewood.
The USC-bound Greiner pitched a no-hitter and smashed a game-winning home run in a 3-2 triumph against Richland Northeast that clinched at least a share of the Region 4-4A pennant for the Bengals. Blythewood needs a win in Monday’s regular season final at home against Lugoff-Elgin to secure the outright championship and the conference’s No. 1 state playoff seed. If the Bengals stumble, they would share the region title with Spring Valley and be the No. 2 playoff seed behind the Vikings.
“Grayson threw great today, and we needed it because we haven’t been swing the bats that well lately,” said Blythewood coach Barry Mizzell. “And he gave us the big hit. I think with a 2-0 count they were trying to work him outside, and the ball got too much of the plate.”
Blythewood (18-5, 10-1) trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth. Spencer Branham got things going with an opposite field single to left with one out. Greiner stepped in, took two pitches out of the zone and crushed Jason Washburn’s next offering over the center field fence.
“I really didn’t considering not pitching to him in that situation,” said RNE coach Thane Maness. “It might have been different if first base was open. I just didn’t want to put another guy on base because they are such a good hitting team top to bottom.”
On the hill Greiner was not overpowering, but was in total command. The Cavaliers did not come close to a hit, and scored two runs in the fourth on a two-out error by Bengals shortstop Thomas Bessinger. In the end, Greiner struck out seven, issues three walks and retired nine of the last 10 RNE hitters he faced after Bessinger’s boot of a routine ground ball.
Bessinger lined a Washburn pitch of the left field fence in the second inning for the first hit and run of the game.
Despite the serving up the two long balls, Washburn was solid on the hill. The senior right-hander allowed four hits and fanned three.
“We didn’t play poorly,” said Maness. “Grayson threw a great game at us, but we battled and had a chance to win. Winning or losing today wasn’t going to change our circumstances on way or the other, so the idea was we wanted to play well in our final game before the start of the playoffs.”
Richland NE finishes in third place in the region and heads to James Island and the Lower State bracket on April 28. The Cavaliers finished with a 12-10 regular season record.