Chris Holba grew up in a military family, so moving from city to city was a way of life for the former Wando High School pitcher.
He was born in Sindelfingen, Germany, then moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After two years it was on to Illinois, then to Charleston for four years. He lived in Honolulu, Washington D.C., and Germany again before returning to Charleston. His family moved to Illinois for his final two years of high school.
Holba returns to the Lowcountry Tuesday as the scheduled starting pitcher for nationally ranked East Carolina. The 18th-ranked Pirates take on College of Charleston beginning at 5 p.m. at Patriots Point. The two-game series will conclude Wednesday afternoon beginning at 2:30 p.m.
Like most military kids, making and keeping friends was a challenge, but his family and baseball helped Holba cope.
"Every two years, you pack up and go to a new city and start all over again,” said Holba, who played on Wando’s B team and junior varsity squads as an eighth and ninth grader. “It’s hard to leave friends and people you know. It’s kind of sink or swim, but a lot of military kids go through the same thing. I’m no different. My family, my parents, my brothers and sister were always there for me and that's what got me through it.”
If any place is home to Holba, whose father, Robert, was a colonel in the Air Force, its Charleston. His parents have bought a home in the Lowcountry and have settled in Mount Pleasant since his father retired from the Air Force two years ago.
“Home is always where my parents are and they’ve got a house in Mount Pleasant, so beside East Carolina, I’d have to say Charleston is my home,” Holba said. “I lived there the longest, I love the city and I have a lot of friends that still live in Charleston.”
Holba, a sophomore, said he expects to have plenty of friends and family on hand for Tuesday’s game. For once, his parents won’t have to make the five-hour trek to Greenville, N.C. to see him pitch.
“I know they’re excited about not having to drive so long to come see me play,” Holba said. “I’ve heard from some friends and some old teammates they’re going to try and make the game. I’m really looking forward to playing back in Charleston.”
Holba had a solid freshman campaign for the Pirates last spring. He posted a 3-1 mark with a 6.23 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 10 walks.
“I came out of the bullpen and that wasn’t always the easiest transition for me,” Holba said. “I have been a starter most of my life and coming out the bullpen was a little different. It took me a while, but I got better as the season went on.”
He spent this past summer in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League playing for the Bourne Braves. He started four times, finishing with a 1-0 record and a 2.45 ERA. Opposing batters hit just .222 against him.
“I had a really good summer, really felt like I threw the ball well and improved as a player,” he said.
This season, Holba has settled into a mid-week starter’s role for the Pirates, going 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA.
“It’ll be fun to see everyone, but we’re on a mission and that’s to win two games against College of Charleston,” Holba said. “That’s our No. 1 priority and that’s where my focus will be.”