The South Carolina baseball team will defend its national championship without one of its returning right-handed pitchers.
Sophomore Ethan Carter was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, USC coach Ray Tanner announced Tuesday. Tanner declined to elaborate.
In his freshman season, the 6-foot-5 Carter, a highly regarded prospect out of Newport News, Va., posted a 3-0 record with two saves and a 5.46 ERA in 28 innings. He made 24 appearances out of the bullpen.
Carter told The (Newport News) Daily Press that he plans to transfer to a junior college, which would make him eligible to enter the 2011 draft. He would not say why he was kicked off the team.
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“It’s extremely disappointing, and I’m going to miss my teammates,” Carter said. “I know I let them down with my violation of team rules, but I’ve got to take it in stride. Whenever one door closes, another one opens. I just have to try to make the best of the situation.”
His biggest win came against Coastal Carolina in the deciding game of the Super Regional in Myrtle Beach. He allowed one run in 11/3 innings in the 10-9 victory that sent the Gamecocks to the College World Series. Carter threw two pitches in the CWS, against Oklahoma. He allowed a home run that gave the Sooners a lead in the 12th inning of an elimination game before USC rallied for a 3-2 win.
Heading into this season, Carter was in the mix for a starting role on a staff that leans heavily on left-handed pitchers. It’s likely he would have seen plenty of innings in relief if he had not claimed a spot in the rotation.
Carter’s dismissal follows the loss of left-hander Wes Cook, a transfer from Central Alabama JC, to academic issues. That leaves the Gamecocks with a 33-man roster for this spring because both pitchers were on scholarship and count against the number allotted for the school year. Once scholarship players are determined in August, they can’t be replaced.
Tanner has yet to sort through his walk-ons and determine his final roster for the spring, which must be set by opening day, Feb. 18. Another player on last season’s 35-man roster, right-handed pitcher Greg Harrison, recently opted to transfer to Spartanburg Methodist.
The program continues to wait on an appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for catcher Brady Thomas, who filed for a medical hardship dating to his playing days at Florida State. The transfer has played the past two seasons for the Gamecocks, filling key roles offensively and defensively during last season’s title run.
The team was unable to begin conditioning and skill work Monday because of the weather. Official team practice will begin Jan. 28.