USC Gamecocks Baseball

Injury sidelines Gamecocks ace Clarke Schmidt for season

South Carolina pitcher Clarke Schmidt
South Carolina pitcher Clarke Schmidt

South Carolina junior Clarke Schmidt is out for the season with a right elbow injury, USC announced Tuesday morning.

Schmidt suffered a torn UCL Thursday night at Florida and will need Tommy John surgery. A date for surgery has not been set.

The righty was the ace of the Gamecocks staff, finishing his season at 4-2 with a 1.34 ERA. He leads the Gamecocks in ERA and strikeouts and is second on the team in innings pitched, despite missing a start earlier in the year.

Schmidt, who is eligible for the MLB draft, was viewed as a projected first round pick by several publications, including Baseball America.

Baseball America projected Schmidt to be drafted No. 15 overall in a mock draft last week.

“This is obviously tough news for Clarke and everyone associated with our baseball program,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “Clarke is a special kid with a bright future in front of him and our program will be with him every step of the way. He has been an incredible representative of our university and baseball program and I'm sure he will make a full recovery. I have no doubt he will achieve his goal and dream of pitching in the Major Leagues."

The injury comes two seasons after then South Carolina ace Wil Crowe was injured during a start at Florida.

Crowe also needed Tommy John surgery and sat out last season before returning this year.

Crowe will likely fill the Friday-night role with Adam Hill moving to Saturday. Cody Morris, who has been the midweek starter for the Gamecocks for most of the season, could move into the weekend rotation.

Schmidt allowed nine earned runs this season in nine starts and ranks second in the SEC in ERA. Opponents hit just .194 against him.

South Carolina returns to action on Friday when the Gamecocks begin a three-game series with Kentucky. The Wildcats are ranked No. 10 nationally and lead the SEC East heading into the weekend.