Davis, Carpenter share previous World Series experience with Mavs
Garrett Carpenter and Kyle Davis hear it all the time.
The Colorado Mesa sixth-year seniors are often referred to as senior citizens.
“I think I’ve heard every old joke there is,” Davis said. “(Assistant coach Steve) Woytek (a Grand Junction High School social studies teacher) came in a few weeks ago and said he was lecturing on something about U.S. History and asked if I want to be a guest speaker.”
Davis, who turned 24 on Thursday, said the players and coaches got a good laugh out of that one. Carpenter is also 24 years old.
“We tell them their slogan is going to be: ‘Colorado Mesa University, six or seven of the best years of my life,’ ” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “They’re good kids. They’ve been through a lot, surgeries and having to sit out, rehabilitating, the setbacks you have. They persevered and come out the other end.”
Carpenter and Davis have been around so long, they were on the last Mesa team to qualify for the NCAA Division II World Series — back in 2009.
They know what to expect and have shared that knowledge with their teammates heading into the 2014 World Series. The Mavericks (44-11) play St. Thomas Aquinas (38-16) at 3 p.m. (MDT) Sunday at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, North Carolina
“They’ve been there and done it,” CMU senior Austin Kaiser said. “They know what to expect in terms of the process of it and how it flows. That’s stuff that us guys that haven’t been there can learn from a little bit.”
Carpenter and Davis were pitchers on the 2009 team and mostly pitched in relief. They each made one appearance in the World Series, where the Mavericks went 1-2.
Davis is more confident to pitch in the World Series having done it before.
“I’ve got to tell you, that helps me with my confidence going in this week, because I’ve been there and succeeded on that stage,” he said. “I can do this again.”
He allowed one run in three innings of relief in the 2009 World Series.
Davis developed into a starter for the Mavericks in 2010 and was 7-0.
He injured his right shoulder the next year, but couldn’t pinpoint when it happened.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “It could’ve been a lot of things, but probably overuse. The only thing that comes to mind is I took a line drive off the shoulder in a (fall) scrimmage. It wasn’t an immediate impact, so I don’t know if that did it or not.”
He pitched in four games in the spring of 2011 before realizing the extent of the injury and had surgery. He missed the 2012 season rehabbing the injury.
Carpenter injured his elbow in the fall of 2009, but his ulnar collateral ligament didn’t completely tear. He continued to pitch in the spring of 2010, and the ligament worsened. After getting an MRI, he had surgery.
“It was rough going through all that stuff because I wanted to play, but I’m thankful for another two years to keep playing,” Carpenter said.
“The first year (at the World Series) was very memorable. I’m glad I get to go back for my last year.”
The injuries allowed them to take a lighter course load and focus on rehabilitation and work on a minor.
Both student-athletes graduated this spring.
Davis joked going to school for six years was the ideal plan. Dealing with a torn labrum in the shoulder — not so much.
“There were semesters I was taking (the minimum) 12 credits with fluff classes for no reason,” Davis admitted.
Carpenter plans to stay in town for the immediate future. Davis has some job possibilities, but nothing set in stone.
Both believed they returned from their injuries stronger than ever.
Davis became a regular starter each weekend once he returned.
“I feel like I came back stronger,” Davis said. “I threw pretty hard as a freshman. My sophomore year, my velocity was down, and my mechanics were screwed up. At first it was a mental thing. I didn’t want to let it fly because I knew it was going to hurt.
“The last two weeks, I’ve pretty much said, my shoulder’s done after this, so I’ve tried to let it fly as much as I can.”
Carpenter became a starting pitcher in 2012 when he returned from Tommy John surgery. He was 6-4 with a 5.26 ERA in 14 starts.
Last year, he moved to the outfield, but continued to pitch in relief. He was 1-0 with five saves and also hit .417.
“I went home one summer, and my dad preached to me to go back to (both),” Carpenter said. “I’m happy I did. It’s always good to get to play every day as a position player and get to have an impact.”
Davis, who is 23-1 in his career at Mesa, is 7-0 with a 3.67 ERA this season.
Carpenter and Davis are not satisfied with a return trip to the World Series in their final season, and they won’t let their teammates be satisfied with just making it there, either.
“At the beginning of April, we set some goals: Win the RMAC; go undefeated at home; and win the regional,” Davis said. “The last thing we have is winning the (national) championship. We’ve done a great job of hitting our goals so far. Hopefully, we can get this one too.”
The Mavericks are confident they can win the school’s first NCAA Division II national title after winning the South Central Region title last weekend.
“If last weekend doesn’t prove to ourselves we’re OK playing (from) behind, I don’t know what will,” Kaiser said. “From a fan’s perspective that had to be one of the most intense four or five games you could watch. I know we believe in ourselves. That’s not an issue, especially after this last weekend. It’s just a matter of time and staying consistent.”
No matter what happens, Carpenter and Davis had six memorable years in the program.
“I’ve met a lot of people and coaches that taught me a lot of things,” Carpenter said. “I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”