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Hampson displays fielding prowess heading into 2nd date with Orleans

by Jesse Dougherty
Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hampson displays fielding prowess heading into 2nd date with Orleans

Garrett Hampson (Long Beach State) was inserted into the lineup just a day after flying to the east coast to join the team. 

A Reno, Nev., native who plays his college baseball in California, Hampson hadn’t been to Chatham before arriving Wednesday. He didn’t recognize Veterans Field as his summer home until he stepped onto it. He followed the crowd before situating his gear in the Anglers’ third-base dugout. He was a late addition to an already ingrained batting practice routine. 

Garrett Hampson
Garrett Hampson (Long Beach State) was impressive at shortstop in his Chatham debut. 

But when he jogged out to shortstop just ahead of Chatham’s home opener against Wareham on Thursday night, he naturally found familiarity. 

“It’s just baseball, the same game,” said Hampson after making a handful of flashy plays in an eventual Anglers loss. “That doesn’t change wherever you go.”

Hampson batted in the two-hole and played shortstop in John Schiffner’s second lineup of the season, and the Chatham manager was very pleased with Hampson’s play in the field. Just a day after the Anglers made four errors against Orleans  — all of which were committed in the infield — Hampson’s performance was equal parts prudent and pacifying.

He is expected to jog out to short for the second straight game when the Anglers (1-1) host Orleans (0-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday, the same team that relied on Chatham’s defensive miscues earlier in the week. 

“He looked great out there,” Schiffner said. “It was good to see him making plays like that.”

Hampson finished his freshman season with the Dirtbags with more than one accolade to his name. With Long Beach State playing in the Gainesville region of the NCAA tournament, Hampson was named the Big West Freshman Player of the Year, the All-Big West first-team shortstop and was later honored as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. The last honor put him alongside current major leaguers Danny Espinosa and Troy Tulowitzki as the third Long Beach State freshman shortstop to earn the award. 

After leading the team in hits (74) and runs (44) while tying for the team lead in batting average (.308), it would seem that Hampson’s hitting is what earned him national recognition. But he was equally impressive in the field for the Dirtbags, which stood out to his Chatham teammates right away. 

“He was really, really good out there,” said Jeff Burke (Boston College), who started against Wareham. “He saved me a few times, I know that.”

After Hampson showed off his chops — going to his left, going to his right, playing comfortably around the bag and throwing on the run, he rushed to a ball and his throw to first was wide. He was officially charged with an error, but an error only a certain kind of player can make. 

“Not many guys get to that so I didn’t see it as a mistake,” Burke said.  

On Wednesday the Firebirds only scored in innings in which the Anglers made an error. Hampson isn’t one to grant those kinds of opportunities.