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Madigan wants more

College Baseball

Fifth-year senior, the lone link to UCI's 2007 CWS team, believes NCAA title run is within 'Eaters' grasp.

June 09, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

Unlike any of his teammates, Sean Madigan has seen college baseball's promised land. He is a multiple-dog-pile survivor with a distinguished postseason pedigree whose UC Irvine career is either as many as eight wins or as few as two losses away from completion.

So, when the 23-year-old right fielder, who is the program's lone link to its only College World Series appearance in 2007, speaks of his intuition about the 'Eaters' current run toward a national championship, he has credibility on his side.

"You get these feelings," Madigan said about his raw-nerve emotional commitment to that run that compelled him to be the first player out of the dugout to offer congratulations during most of the Anteaters' three victories at the Los Angeles Regional at UCLA. "A lot of guys are stepping up, and pitching and defense are what you need to win a championship. I just get this feeling that people are starting to come together. We're starting to play well and people are starting to believe. This is just exciting for me."

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The elder statesman of the UCI roster knows all about belief. He was a freshman All-American designated hitter in 2007, when UCI, just six seasons out of a nine-season dormancy created by budget cuts, rode a catalytic mixture of confidence, seemingly defiant nerve, and talent all the way to Omaha.

But beyond the collective spirit cultivated by a five-month season in which players spend more time in the dugout and/or clubhouse than they do their own living room, Madigan knows what it is to battle personal adversity.

He missed most of the 2009 season with surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus. His first two seasons, in 2007 and 2008, he also battled for playing time and was sometimes relegated to a left-handed-hitting platoon role at DH, first base and the outfield.

But perhaps his biggest individual victory has involved conquering consistent doubts about his diamond development that date back to his days as an undersized, overachieving little leaguer.

"I was an all-star in Little League, but I'm sure a lot of people — not me and my family — if you told them where I'm at today, they wouldn't have believed it."

Madigan was 5-foot-2 when he entered Servite High, where he grew both in stature and ability.

"I didn't start growing until my junior year," he said. "I was small."

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