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Homecoming for Holy Names hurlers

Updated: 
February 27, 2015 - 12:05am

When Holy Names pitchers Jayse Bannister and Micah Ashburn saw the ocean from their plane, they felt right back at home.

It’ll be a homecoming for the two Hawaii Prep alumni when Holy Names starts a four-game series against the UH-Hilo baseball team.

The Hawks (8-4) play the Vulcans (2-3) in a pair of doubleheaders at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Wong Stadium.

There is free admission for high school and intermediate students for both days.

Bannister is scheduled to start Game 1 and Ashburn Game 2 on Friday.

“It feels really good to be back where I grew up,” Bannister said. “As soon as we pulled up to the island, it was a good feeling. I could feel the warmth in my heart. I’m excited to pitch at Wong again.”

For the season, Bannister, a 2012 HPA graduate, is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-1 junior left-hander has allowed 16 hits, walked four and struck out 14 in three starts.

Ashburn, a 2011 HPA grad is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a save in 18 2/3 innings. The 6-3 senior right-hander has yielded 12 hits, walked three and whiffed 11.

In his last start on Feb. 13, Bannister pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball and took a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to Cal State Stanislaus.

The next day, Ashburn fired six innings of three-run ball, and took a no-decision in an 8-4 win over the Warriors.

Bannister and Ashburn are the only Hawaii players on the roster for the Hawks, who started their baseball program in 2013.

Last season, Bannister was 2-3 with a 2.81 ERA and two saves in 67 1/3 innings. He gave up 61 hits and 28 walks, and struck out 34 in 12 games, including nine starts. Ashburn was 5-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 55 1/3 innings. He surrendered 53 hits and 30 walks, and whiffed 30 in 11 starts.

After HPA, Ashburn spent a season at Lon Morris, a junior college in Texas, where Bannister was supposed to join him. But instead they ended up as Holy Names teammates.

“Jayse is my brother and it’s been awesome having him as a teammate,” Ashburn said. “It was nice to get a college season under my belt and then show him the ropes.

“He’s a natural pitcher. We connected in high school and to bring that to the college level has been awesome. It’s been the best experience ever.”

Last season, Holy Names finished second-to-last in the conference, one spot behind UHH, and finished the season with a 19-31 record, including a 10-game losing streak.

The Hawks hosted the Vuls last year and won all four games.

In the first game, Bannister fired seven innings of one-run ball in a 15-1 win, highlighted by a 22-hit barrage by the Hawks against four UHH pitchers.

In the second game, Ashburn walked six, danced away from trouble, and pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 3-0 win.

One of the most memorable pitching performances at Wong Stadium for Bannister was a loss.

In 2012 as a senior, Bannister and Konawaena junior Ryan Torres-Torioka (now at Hawaii Pacific) produced the best pitching duel in the short history of the BIIF Division II playoffs.

The Hawks will visit HPU for a four-game series starting March 4. Torres-Torioka is strictly a second baseman and is batting .273 (3 of 11) in five games.

Back then, Torres-Torioka fired a two-hitter and Kona won 1-0, despite Bannister’s three-hitter, to reach the HHSAA tourney and snap HPA’s four-year state run.

Since statewide classification started in 2008, there hasn’t been a better combined double gem, where both pitchers went the distance and allowed one run and less than five hits in the BIIF postseason.

“I remember that game,” Bannister said. “It was my senior year and the only time we didn’t go to states. It was a heart-breaker.”

At least, Ashburn didn’t bear that agony of defeat. He was on the HPA ballclub that went to states for four straight years.

He’s got a 3.1 grade-point average and is majoring in accounting. Ashburn has another year to get his degree, and will look to land an internship over the summer.

Bannister has a 3.0 GPA in liberal studies. He’s just a junior, but plans to find a job near the school in the Oakland, Calif., area after he graduates.

“It was a good opportunity to have him as a teammate,” Bannister said. “If you were feeling homesick, we could talk pidgin with each other. There are other Hawaii people up here too. To be on the same pitching staff, that’s been awesome.”

It’s a nice two-for-one deal with both local boys pitching on the same day. Next season, the Hawks will host the Vuls, so it’s the final mound appearance at Wong for both.

“It’s unreal. I’ll have a lot family there,” Ashburn said. “I’ve been going there at Wong all through high school.

“It’s a bittersweet ending for my Hawaii baseball career at Wong. But I can’t wait to pitch this weekend.”

Kiyota at Simpson

Matt Kiyota, a 2011 HPA graduate, transferred from Holy Names to Simpson University, an NAIA school in Redding, Calif.

The junior catcher is batting .323 (10 of 31) through 10 games.

Hart at William Jessup

Nainoa Hart, a 2011 Kamehameha graduate, transferred from Holy Names to William Jessup, an NAIA school in Rocklin, Calif.

Through eight games, Hart, a junior outfielder/pitcher, is batting .286 (2 of 7) and on the mound he’s 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in nine innings and five games.

Unfortunately, the Simpson Red Hawks and William Jessup Warriors aren’t scheduled to play each other this season.

Shiraki at Northern Colorado

Dylan Shiraki, a 2012 Honokaa graduate, is pitching at Northern Colorado, which a member of the Western Athletic Conference, UH-Manoa’s former league.

The junior left-hander has pitched in one game, three innings of one-run relief with a no-decision in a 10-0 loss to San Jose State on Feb. 22 on the road.

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