By Mario Renteria
Imperial Valley Press Sports Editor
Calexico High 2009 graduate Esau “Chacho” Madrigal was about to live his dream of playing college baseball at San Diego State University last year before an injury left him contemplating leaving the sport for good.
The ambidextrous pitcher suffered an injury to his left elbow, his strongest throwing arm, which caused SDSU to eventually retract its partial-scholarship offer from Madrigal.
After a year of rest, Madrigal went back to SDSU hoping to get another shot, which he didn’t get and left him wondering if he should quit.
“It was probably the worst news I’ve ever received,” Madrigal said of SDSU’s decision to “go in another direction.”
“It made me wonder if playing baseball was meant to be. People around me knew it hurt because it was a dream come true for me … ever since I was in high school I wanted to play at San Diego State,” he said.
He didn’t quit and after working out for Cal State East Bay in Hayward recently, he’s not only ready to get back on the field but is getting a free education out of it.
“Taking that time off and thinking about the game of baseball made me want it even more and Cal State East Bay was the right choice for me and I’m completely grateful for that,” Madrigal said.
East Bay offered Madrigal a partial athletic scholarship that will pay for most of his fees. The rest of his fees will be paid through his financial aid, making his out-of-pocket expenses miniscule.
After graduating from Calexico, Madrigal played two years at Imperial Valley College, where he started and played outfield.
It was toward the end of the 2012 season at IVC when he suffered an injury that could require Tommy John surgery. He decided against the injury and opted for prolonged rest.
“It was something I didn’t want to do because I’ve previously gotten shoulder surgery and I didn’t want to go through all that,” he said. “So I just decided to just take my chances as a position player and make the team that way and thankfully I did.”
The NCAA Division II East Bay will plan on using him at first base and outfield. He will pitch mainly out of the bullpen, closing or in short-inning relief with the possibility of starting if all goes well.
If he does start again, East Bay will get a quality starter, having been named to the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference First Team and All Southern California team his last year at IVC as a pitcher.
The school is also a few minutes away from Holy Names University in Oakland where fellow Bulldog, Arab and long-time friend Luis Briseño is also following a similar patch to return to the mound.
After years of playing together at Calexico and IVC, the two will be opponents on the field.
“We played maybe eight to 10 years together and now we get to play each other in college,” Madrigal said. “It’s something interesting and I’m looking forward to.”
He will also major in History with the goal of becoming a history teacher.
“My main goal is to one day come back to the Valley, coach and open up doors for kids playing baseball,” he said, “the same way my coaches have helped me and help them with their education.”