Carpenter, Kaiser lift Mavs to victory
One player got a monkey off his back and another may have earned his way into the lineup.
Colorado Mesa University pitcher Garrett Carpenter picked up his first win in three years and Austin Kaiser made the most of his third start this season as the Mavericks baseball team won its third consecutive RMAC series of the season.
Mesa (15-7, 9-3 RMAC) defeated the Colorado School of Mines 8-5 in windy conditions on Sunday afternoon at Canyon View Park.
Carpenter (1-3) limited Mines (6-10, 5-7 RMAC) to three earned runs on nine hits and struck out five in a complete game.
“It took a long time to figure it out,” Carpenter said. “I was leaving a lot of balls up. Today, I was making some good pitches. They hit it too, but I kept battling and kept the ball down since it was a windy day.”
The Mavericks lured Carpenter away from some Division I schools, but the Bellflower, Calif., native, was plagued with back problems as a freshman, picking up his lone victory until Sunday in the NCAA Central Region tournament in relief.
His left pitching arm gave him problems in 2010, eventually needing Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of that season and 2011.
He got off to a slow start this season, but pitched better in his previous outing.
For what Carpenter went through, he’s happy to pitch no matter what Mother Nature dishes out.
“It’s still fun to play again, though,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like. Hopefully it stays (bad) if that’s what it takes (to get a victory). The coaches are helping me out reminding me to keep focused.”
Carpenter got off to a slow start Sunday, falling behind 4-2, but the Mesa offense came around led by Kaiser, who had nearly as many at-bats the past two days as he has in his three years in the program.
The redshirt sophomore was 4 for 4 with a double and four RBI. He was 8 for 11 with five RBI in the weekend series.
“Obviously, it’s been fun,” Kaiser said. “Baseball is a fun game. With the team we got and the chemistry we have, it’s fun to come out and play.”
Kaiser got the opportunity, in large part, because All-RMAC outfielder Jeff Popick is out with the flu.
“I’m very proud of Austin,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “He’s a kid, if you watch him at practice you would never know he hadn’t played, he hadn’t traveled from the start. He tries to produce a short, compact swing on a good swing plane and that’s what you saw all weekend.”
“When we’re struggling the way we are with the outfield spot, you give the kid a chance. He’s worked himself in the mix now at the very worst.”
Kaiser came through with a two-run single in the fourth inning to tie the score 4-4.
One inning later, he doubled to the right-center field gap with two outs and scored on a Justin Rosales single for an 8-4 lead.
Kaiser nearly had an inside-the-park home run in the seventh with the aid of a rare Mines error. He drove a ball to right-center field again and was on his way to third base when the right fielder struggled to get the ball in a timely fashion.
“I was just watching coach (Hanks),” Kaiser said. “I was going hard then he said go for it. It was a close play. I thought I was there.”
Hanks gave him a green light, but he was thrown out in a close play at the plate.
“I should’ve held him at third,” Hanks said. “He runs so well and I don’t think their middle infielders have great arms. I knew it would be close, but I said to myself, ‘The heck with it, send him, make them make a throw.’ It was a bang-bang play.”