OSWEGO — Junior infielder Eric Hamilton of the Oswego State baseball team has played a major role in the Lakers' fast start this season.
Hamilton has put up numbers ranking him among the best in NCAA Division III.
In helping the Lakers to a 20-3 overall record this far, Hamilton is batting .432 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs, and an .875 slugging percentage. He leads Oswego State in each of those categories.
Considering his background, Hamilton's success this year comes as no surprise. He grew up in a baseball family, which is where his love for the game began.
"My mom was a softball player, my dad played baseball growing up, and my older brother played baseball as well," he said. "I've been playing ever since I could remember starting with T-Ball at age 4." His family is still a big part of his baseball career.
"My parents have been a big support. They go to games whenever possible," Hamilton said. "I'm also very close with my grandpa, who has also been at every game supporting me." Eric's brother Brian is a senior infielder for the Lakers. They get along well, and Eric said there was never a rivalry between them.
"Growing up together playing on the same teams, we would always push each other to become better and be as successful as we could for each other to make the team better," Eric said.
Hamilton attended Cicero-North Syracuse High School, where he played both hockey and baseball for the Northstars.
"I loved playing both sports in high school. When I came to Oswego I wanted to do the same, but that didn't really pan out. Between the two sports I would have chosen baseball if I had to," he said.
In three seasons of varsity baseball at CNS, Hamilton averaged .414 with eight home runs and 70 RBIs.
"At CNS in my senior year we were a very good team. We usually got everyone's best pitcher, so that was a big factor in preparing me for the pitching I would see in college here at Oswego," he said.
Oswego State coach Scott Landers recruited Hamilton out of high school.
"Before I even got the job at Oswego, I was coaching at Le Moyne College and had built a relationship with both Eric and his brother," Landers said. "When I was finally hired for the job here, I knew I wanted Eric from the start because of his skill from the plate." In his freshman season, Hamilton appeared in 31 games for the Lakers, starting in 25 of those games. He hit .333, while finishing third on the team in hits with 30. He was named to the all-conference first team in the SUNY Athletic Conference.
"We knew we had a special talent after we saw what he did from the plate in his first season," Landers said.
In his sophomore season, Hamilton batted .345 (57-for-165) with three homers and a team-high 39 RBIs. He tied for the team lead in hits with 57. He was again named to the All-SUNYAC first team, and he earned D3baseball.com All-New York Region second-team honors. He also received ABCA/Rawlings All-New York Region third-team honors and a Gold Glove for his play at third base.
Again this year, Hamilton is hitting for a high average, and his power numbers have spiked.
He attributes his hot start to working on his swing this past offseason with Coach Landers.
"When I came back this fall, Coach Landers really changed my swing to help me get more power behind the ball by breaking down video," Hamilton said.
Landers praised Hamilton for working hard to improve.
"From a hitter's standpoint, Eric is off to a tremendous start," Landers said. "Everything that we have talked about for him to be better than he has been in the last two years, he's done it." Oswego State's next game is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at home against Brockport.