HAWAII GROWN REPORT
COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
Patrick McGuigan went from a state championship at Mid-Pacific to the University of San Francisco, where he ranks second in career victories with 21.
Big Mac attack
Patrick McGuigan made the most out of his opportunities after the University of San Francisco gave him the chance to pitch
Patrick McGuigan has been successful in every role asked of him the past four seasons by San Francisco Dons baseball coach Nino Giarratano.
The right-hander worked nine games out of the bullpen as a freshman and became a fixture there the next two seasons before finally getting a start as a junior.
This year, injuries to the pitching staff gave McGuigan the opportunity to start, and he has responded with a 9-2 record. He was so impressive during March that he was named the West Coast Conference pitcher of the month.
Despite being the Star-Bulletin's All-State Pitcher of the Year in 2002, McGuigan was not recruited. He also teamed with catcher and current Hawaii Rainbow Matt Inouye, the Star-Bulletin All-State Offensive Player of the Year, to lead the Mid-Pacific Owls to the state championship.
"The Dons weren't going to recruit me, but said I was welcome to come and try out. They said the program was going in a good direction and it would be a good place to play," said McGuigan, whose sister, Nanea, was working in the USF athletic department at the time.
Giarratano, who never saw McGuigan play a high school game, received a telephone call from MPI baseball coach Dunn Muramaru.
"He said nothing but great things about Patrick. He told me what a great competitor Patrick was. Dunn saw the potential," said Giarratano. "We wanted to give Patrick an opportunity. We're sure glad we did."
McGuigan enjoys the reliever role. He is USF's all-time saves leader with 17 and the career leader in appearances (86).
"There is pressure as a reliever, but fortunately I had a lot of opportunities and chances to get better. The team relies on you a lot and I have been fortunate to keep that position (as a reliever)," McGuigan said.
Although he made 12 starts this year, McGuigan still has seen action out of the 'pen. When he is there and it's late in the game with the score tight, he begins getting ready.
As the 2006 season evolved and the Dons battled for one of the two playoff berths in the WCC championship series, McGuigan has been in the 'pen Friday and Saturday. If he wasn't needed or just faced a couple of batters to close a game, he would start Sunday.
"Patrick did wonderful as a starter, but is so valuable late in the season coming out of the 'pen. Winning games is such a high commodity," Giarratano said.
"It is kind of a dual role for Patrick. He has pitched a lot of innings, so now I want more quality than quantity.
"He throws three pitches -- fastball, slider and changeup -- for strikes. He has movement on his fastball. His slider to right-handed hitters, at times, is unhittable.
"It is about the same velocity as his fastball and looks like a fastball until the last 5 feet. And, when batters start going outside for the slider, they can't handle the inside fastball."
McGuigan pitched two shutout innings last Friday to get the win as USF beat Loyola Marymount 5-4 in 11 innings, then started and got the victory Sunday as the Dons swept the series to win their first-ever WCC title.
Not an overpowering pitcher, McGuigan relies on getting opponents to make contact, not solid contact, then letting his teammates do the rest.
"We have a solid defensive team this year. They make plays for you, and that is comforting," said McGuigan, who had no plans to be a starter this year. "When Coach gave me the opportunity, I had some success."
McGuigan acknowledges the slider is his dominant pitch and he uses it often. He takes pride in hitting his spots and getting opponents to hit ground balls.
"No matter what I have asked, starter or closer, Patrick does the best he can and that is why he is so successful. His command of his pitches is his greatest strength," Giarratano said. "We don't have a team captain, but emotionally, he has great leadership qualities."
Being named player of the month -- when he was 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA and held opponents to a .139 batting average -- was unexpected.
"I don't pay attention to things like that. You don't shoot for those things. It just happened," McGuigan said.
"It obviously was a team effort. There are guys out there who score runs and make me look good."
The highlight of McGuigan's USF career came earlier this year when he defeated then-No. 22 Pepperdine in the deciding meeting of a three-game series.
"It was the first time in a long time we won a series there. It was big for our program," he said.
McGuigan ranks second on the Dons' career list for wins (21), is sixth in strikeouts (170) and eighth in ERA (2.84).
He graduates with a degree in marketing today and would like to stay in San Francisco if he doesn't get a chance to play pro ball.
"There has been a little interest. The scouts are not swarming, but you never know what will happen with the draft, McGuigan said.
"It has been a great four years. I've had a lot of fun. The teams I've been a part of are more than you can ask for. The coaches help you learn and make you work hard. San Francisco has all kinds of people and it is a great place to learn outside of the world of baseball."
By the numbers
Patrick McGuigan's career pitching statistics
Source: University of San Francisco