Hawaii’s Hornung continues incredible return from life-threatening baseball injury

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University of Hawaii ace pitcher Brendan Hornung almost lost his baseball career and life with one crack of the bat.

While pitching for Chaffey College in 2014, Hornung was hit in the right temple by a comeback line drive. The impact caused internal trauma to Hornung’s brain, as well as a fracture to his skull.

After spending time in the hospital waiting to be seen, his mother Sandra, a nurse, helped get attention to Brendan, who doctors said could have died with another hour without treatment.

“The last thing I remember that day is my head coach kind of closing the door,” Hornung said. “It was like a TV show and it cut out to commercial. Everything just goes black.”

Hornung remained in the intensive care unit for eight days, spending 48 hours under a medically induced coma.

“The rehab was tough. I think about my fourth day in the ICU out of eight, I was starting to walk again with the walker,” he said. “After that I was able to go home, and they wouldn’t let me do anything physical for three months. No schoolwork. They made me drop all of my classes. So I just sat at home and watched Netflix and played video games for three months straight.”

After three months of inactivity, the Corona, Calif. native slowly rehabilitated from his injuries, and eventually returned to the mound.

Hornung posted a 2.66 earned run average in 2015 for Chaffey, earning himself a scholarship to play at Hawaii in 2016. Though he admits he will think of his injury from time to time, he doesn’t take any scar tissue out to pitch.

“Once you get back out there, it’s all the same game again,” he said.

Now, Hornung has earned himself a spot at the top of the Rainbow Warrior rotation, where he has complied a 2.48 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 65.1 innings pitched.

“I love it here,” he said. “I mean look at the field we’re at. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

He finds comfort with a carbon fiber plate that he places in his hat, a plate made by Safer Sport Technologies.

“It’s carbon fiber, so it’s pretty sturdy, but I don’t think anybody knows that it’s in there when I’m pitching,” Hornung said. “You see guys get hit all of the time now. Hopefully the name gets out there and a lot more pitchers start wearing them, because I don’t want it to happen to another guy what happened to me.”

Hornung will hit the hill Friday when the Rainbow Warriors continue Big West Conference play at CSUN at noon HST.

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