Nearly half of his life removed from the final time he played college baseball — a game he’s dedicated the latter years of his life to teaching — Nino Giarratano can still recall his freshman baseball season, dim as it may be.
“I just remember wanting to contribute, and trying to believe in myself, and wanting an opportunity to compete at the highest levels,” said the 51-year-old Giarratano, now in his 16th year as the USF baseball coach. “That’s probably the same thing he’s going through.”
He being USF right-hander Grant Goodman.</p>
With a mere four starts at the collegiate level, Goodman — the lone freshman on the Dons’ starting rotation — has contributed rather nicely.
A former Burlingame ace and one of the most dominant pitchers in the Peninsula Athletic League over his high school tenure, Goodman, armed with a 92-mile-per-hour aggressive fastball, seized the Sunday starter role from junior college transfer Matt Narahara.
“Myself, I think there might be a little pressure just trying to do well, because I know what I think I can do,” said Goodman, who went 4 2/3 innings in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Gonzaga. “But added pressure just being the only freshman, I don’t really think that’s that big of a deal. People have done it in the past.”
But only four years ago, and as a different sort of freshman, Goodman wasn’t even a pitcher.
He spent his freshman season toiling in the infield at Serra High School before transferring to nearby Burlingame. Nearing the end of his sophomore season, a starting pitcher went down. Goodman got called to the mound and hasn’t stepped off since.
“That’s when I started thinking, ‘OK, I might have a chance to do something,’” Goodman said. “I didn’t know if it was going to be at community college, or D-I or D-II.”
Living up to his surname, his stuff was deemed good enough for Division 1.
“We recruited him with hopes that eventually he’d be our Friday starter, as he’s kind of emerged pretty fast into that starting role on Sundays,” said Giarratano, who first spotted Goodman as a sophomore. “We thought he was one of the best kids in the Bay Area.”
And so did the Giants, selecting Goodman in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB draft.
Goodman’s grandfather Donald once tried out for the Boston Red Sox, but traded in that opportunity for the more profitable career as an army dentist. Donald never reached the major leagues.
“Hopefully, that’s the goal,” Goodman said. “I’m still just a freshman. I have a couple of more years to get up there.”
Heeding the instructions of “throw as hard as I can,” Goodman last week got his collegiate win, striking out seven in eight shutout innings in a 9-0 win over Tulane. After going 0-1 in his first two starts, Goodman has seemingly hit his stride — and some batters.
“He hit four guys,” Giarratano said. “But he didn’t walk anybody.”
“I felt those guys were on the plate a little bit,” Goodman said. “I only hit one kid badly. The other kids were just inside fastballs that I just missed a little bit.”Burlingame High SchoolGrant GoodmanPrep SportsUSF