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December 20, 2010

Cook Leaving Baseball Program

Left-hander Wes Cook did not make the necessary fall grades to compete for South Carolina this season and has left school, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The Central Alabama Junior College product, who had an up-and-down fall season, is transferring to another program for his remaining eligibility.

A source at Auburn University Montgomery, an NAIA institution, confirmed that Cook will transfer in for the spring semester. He is eligible to pitch immediately.

Cook was the 2010 Junior College Pitcher of the Year in Alabama after going 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 111 innings. He was 10-0 as a freshman and averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

He was one of several left-handers bidding for a role in the Gamecocks' rotation this year and seemed to be heading for a bullpen spot due to his fall performance. Cook could have also been in the mix as a midweek starter.

Cook is believed to be the only academic casualty of the semester.

USC is re-tooling its pitching staff after losing stalwarts Blake Cooper, Sam Dyson and Jay Brown following winning the national championship. It had 25 pitchers in fall camp, including 10 lefties.

The numbers each shrink by one, but USC should be very equipped to handle it. From the left side, USC returns College World Series hero Michael Roth, Steven Neff, Nolan Belcher and Tyler Webb while also welcoming Adam Westmoreland back from Tommy John surgery. North Carolina transfer Logan Munson is eligible this year, as is signee Bryan Harper.

The loss also opens a spot on the roster. There were 46 players in camp attempting to make a 35-man roster. Catcher Brady Thomas is petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility (he was already denied once) and Cook is gone, so the number of players right now is 44.

USC has to finalize the roster by its first game. The Gamecocks are set to open the season on Feb. 18 with the first of a three-game series hosting Santa Clara.

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