Hunter Greene, a Stevenson Ranch resident who attends Sherman Oaks High of Notre Dame, flew south for the fall.
He’s currently in Monterrey, Mexico, representing his country on the USA Baseball 18U National Team in the COPABE Pan American “AAA” Championships.
The 17-year-old pitcher is on Team USA’s 20-man roster for the second year in a row. Last year, in September, Greene took home gold as part of the national team that competed in Japan at the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup.
Although Greene is both a pitcher and an infielder, he is only participating as the latter in this year’s tournament.
“I had enough confidence in my fielding and batting that I felt confident in making the national team without pitching and really just needed to take a pitching break for safety reasons,” said Greene.
His experience in Mexico has been different from that in Japan, although the team is embraced by everyone they meet.
“The fan base in Japan was huge but in Mexico it’s been pretty laid back,” Greene said. “We don’t get a lot of exposure to the public in Mexico mainly because of security issues. We go from the field to our buses and back to the hotel. It’s a pretty tight schedule so we don’t have much time anyway. We also always have security with us and they keep us moving and protected.”
The U.S. is the only undefeated team left in this year’s tournament at 4-0, with the squad’s most recent victory coming over previously undefeated Nicaragua, 6-5 Tuesday.
Against Nicaragua, Greene gave the Americans a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning by hitting a double that drove in Ryan Vilade. Greene then aided in getting the team out of a one-run deficit in the ninth inning when he earned a leadoff walk. The U.S. inserted a pinch runner who came around to score and tie the game. A sacrifice fly allowed the Americans to walk off with the victory.
Greene went 1-for-4 at the plate in the game.
In the game against Honduras on Sunday, Greene went 2-for-2 with two RBIs in a 23-1 win. He was 2-for-3 with another RBI in a win over Cuba one day earlier, and he also recorded a hit and RBI in the U.S. opener against Panama, an 11-1 win last Friday.
He has yet to pitch in the tournament, which will conclude with a championship game on Oct. 9.
“Knowing I’m representing the best baseball players in the United States is the highest compliment any person or baseball player can receive,” Greene said. “The fact that my country calls on me to do this, I feel really special. I’ve worked really hard on and off the field as well as in the classroom so being chosen is an honor that I will never forget or take for granted.”
Greene is a senior UCLA commit and is ranked as one of the top high school players in the country. An athlete and a scholar, he has clocked a 98 mph fastball and a 31 out of 36 ACT score.
He found out the test result, which took him two tries to achieve, while on the team bus in Mexico.
“I feel like I can breathe now,” Greene said. “I knew I didn’t need to get a 31 on the ACT to get into UCLA because I have good grades, but you never know how these exams are going to workout.They’re not easy and you still have to get a good score and because all of my summers have been with USA, I was running out of time to submit a good score to the NCAA.
“I never take anything for granted, so I work really hard at everything I do.”