Carpenter returns to rotation

Tyler McIntosh

Last Sunday’s 16-1 rout of Ohio was Kent State’s third win in a row and kept them within striking distance of Mid-American Conference East leader Miami. But for pitcher Chris Carpenter, the game had added significance.

Carpenter (2-0) was making his second start of the season and his first at home since an injury forced him to miss all of last season. The outing showed why Carpenter was drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of high school.

Sunday’s start was an event Carpenter labeled as “special” and one he would not forget.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore gave up just one run and two hits in five innings while striking out four in his first win as a starter since 2005. If there was a statement Carpenter was trying to make with his performance, it was that he was back.

“I feel like I’m 100 percent (healthy),” he said. “I put a lot of hard work into rehab, and I came back even stronger than I was before the injury. I think I can fine tune things. That would be the only adjustments to make.

“I can work on hitting my spots a little bit more and my control, but my stuff is there. My velocity is there. Everything is where I want it to be.”

In the previous week against Ball State — Carpenter’s first start of the year — he was touched for four runs in three innings.

Before his return to the starting rotation, Carpenter came out of the bullpen for the Flashes and was productive. In five relief appearances, Carpenter pitched 11.1 innings, struck out eight batters and posted a 2.26 ERA.

Carpenter, who is holding opponents to just a .172 average, is scheduled to make his next start Sunday against Bowling Green.

The Flashes will look to extend their four-game winning streak when they start a three-game series with the Falcons 3 p.m. today at Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact baseball reporter Tyler McIntosh at [email protected].