The 'Iolani graduate once dreamed of playing at Murakami Stadium; he gets his chance this weekend
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 9, 2011
One team that doesn't have any sympathy for the Hawaii Rainbows is their opponent this weekend.
UH finishes a stretch of nine baseball games in 11 days with a four-game series against Portland, which can do the 'Bows one better.
PROFILE | J.R. Bunda» School: Portland
» Class: Sophomore
» Height: 6 feet
» Position: RHP
» Notes: Started his first game yesterday against BYU; second team All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu as a sophomore; allowed 14 earned runs in 25 innings with a 1-1 record so far as a collegian
Source: University of Portland athletics
Bunda, a 2009 'Iolani graduate, returns home to face a UH team he nearly played for before choosing to experience something new on the mainland.
"I was offered and that was always my dream," Bunda said about playing at UH. "Growing up I used to watch UH baseball all the time, went to all their games, but once it got to that point to decide to stay home or go somewhere else, I felt like I had more going for me by going away."
Bunda could hit in high school, batting .450 with four home runs as a senior, leading the Raiders to an Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship.
He played with current UH players Breland Almadova and Jarrett Arakawa and says he pitched many times against UH sophomore Pi'ikea Kitamura, who played at Kamehameha.
"I think it'll be exciting," Bunda said. "Breland and I were talking about it last fall with one of our high school coaches and I think everyone is looking forward to the face-off."
Bunda has been strictly a pitcher in college, finishing his freshman year 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA in 14 appearances. He allowed 11 hits and struck out 11 in 19 innings, holding opposing batters to a .200 average.
Bunda got a start yesterday in a 7-6 loss to BYU, which won both games against the Pilots by identical scores. He gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and no walks.
He threw 62 pitches, 42 for strikes, and should be available to pitch against the Rainbows in the series that begins tomorrow.
"My family and I have been talking about it for the last month already," said Bunda, who is the son of former Hawaii Sen. Robert Bunda. "I know the team is excited to make a trip all the way out to Hawaii, because we don't do stuff like this much, but we also know we're going there for business and not fun."
The Pilots (6-4) bring a four-game losing streak to Les Murakami Stadium after starting the year 6-0.
Portland defeated No. 15 Oregon in a single game during that stretch, which included the cancellation of three games due to weather.
"It's different coping with the weather in terms of baseball here than in Hawaii," Bunda said. "We were fortunate in January and early February that it wasn't raining that much, but we got a lot of snow a couple of weeks ago and it was cool because it was the first time I had a snow day."
The Pilots are coming off their most successful season under coach Chris Sperry, who is now in his 14th season. Portland finished with its first winning record under Sperry at 34-18 and came in second in the West Coast Conference.