Dylan Carter suffers torn UCL, done for season

Head coach Dave Van Horn and the Arkansas Razorbacks just cannot escape injuries in 2023.

Redshirt sophomore right-hander Dylan Carter announced Wednesday that he has suffered a torn UCL that will require surgery and end his season. The injury came after Carter threw one inning of relief during last Thursday’s win over Texas A&M.

“Razorback Nation: It is with a heavy heart that I announce my 2023 season has come to an end due to a UCL tear,” Carter said in a tweet. “This season has been nothing short of amazing and our teams season isn’t over yet. I will be the best teammate and supporter as we finish up the season and begin our run to Omaha.”

The news comes after Van Horn told reporters following Tuesday’s loss to Lipscomb that the results following Carter’s MRI with dye Monday were not good and he was going to leave it at that.

Carter entered last Thursday’s game against the Aggies in the top of the fifth inning. After allowing back-to-back singles to begin the frame, Carter saw A&M tie the game at 5-5 on a sacrifice fly out. He managed to escape without giving up anymore damage on the scoreboard, but the damage had been done to his arm.

While the initial results were good, according to Van Horn, the closer look showed exactly what they didn’t want to see — a UCL tear.

The Bentonville native emerged as one of the Razorbacks’ top bullpen arms this season, which can be attributed to him stepping up significantly due to other injuries early in the year.

Not even a week into the month of March, Arkansas had seen projected ace Jaxon Wiggins go down with a preseason torn UCL and strong relief pitcher Koty Frank suffer a season-ending torn lat. Sophomore closer Brady Tygart also went down with a sprained UCL, which set him back from March 1 to this weekend, when he is expected to throw.

All of those injuries forced less experienced pitchers to step up and Carter answered the call. He boasts a 6-0 record, 3.65 ERA and two saves across 37.0 innings pitched this season. He’s walked 11, struck out 26 and opponents are hitting .264 against him.

Carter has thrown by far the most innings of any Razorback pitcher that hasn’t started a game this year. That seemed to catch up with him during last weekend’s series at Georgia.

After tossing 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the April 20 loss in Game 1 at the Bulldogs, Carter told reporters that he felt pretty good and he thought he’d “be ready to rock and roll” for Game 3.

Sure enough, Carter wasn’t ready to rock and roll and it likely cost Arkansas the third game, which Georgia managed to walk off courtesy of a grand slam followed by a solo home run within the span of five pitches from freshman Ben Bybee in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Though the situation seemed to be fit for Carter’s services, Van Horn said after the game that the righty needed rest.

“Yeah, we were letting him rest,” Van Horn said. “He’s pitched a lot for us. He’s having just a little bit of soreness, and he hasn’t had much soreness, just normal stuff, but we just felt like we didn’t want to hurt him, obviously, and we didn’t feel like we could put him in there.”

During last Tuesday’s 8-4 loss at Missouri State in Springfield, Carter was seen in the dugout with a bag of ice on his throwing arm while the rest of Arkansas’ pitchers were stretching in the outfield at Hammons Field. Carter didn’t throw against the Bears, but Van Horn said Carter would be fine for the series opener against Texas A&M.

“He’ll be fine by Thursday,” Van Horn said. “We’ve used him a lot, and we didn’t want to hurt him. We just felt like the other day he was sore. He’s a lot better now. He’s actually feeling good.”

There is no way for Van Horn or pitching coach Matt Hobbs to predict injuries like this happening, and this is just another case of an extremely unfortunate turn of events for Carter and the Razorbacks.

After transferring in from Crowder College — where he started 13 games and posted an 8-1 record across 61 2/3 innings in 2021 — Carter redshirted the 2022 season in Fayetteville. He went up to Wisconsin to pitch in the Northwoods League over the summer, where he was named to the Northwoods League All-Star Game with the Green Bay Rockers.

Now Arkansas is down three arms that would’ve thrown meaningful innings every weekend. Add those injuries on top of left fielder Jared Wegner (thumb) and centerfielder Tavian Josenberger (hamstring), and the Hogs just can’t catch a break.

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