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Dedication pays off for Loomis, who will continue baseball career at Niagara CC

Warren Area High School senior Hunter Loomis (center) is pictured with his parents and step-parents as he signs his National Letter of Intent to play baseball for Niagara Community College.

Warren Area High School senior Hunter Loomis knows what it’s like to put in hard work to achieve a goal. He also knows what it’s like to be patient.

All of that hard work and patience has paid off, as the Dragon inked his National Letter of Intent last Wednesday with Niagara County Community College.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Loomis said. “We’ve all been playing together since we were seven and eight years old. We’ve been working hard since then and it’s finally all paying off.”

Loomis was referring to classmates Mitch Grosch, Ryan Rafalski and Nick Hussey, who all signed on Wednesday as well – Grosch and Rafalski with Mercyhurst and Hussey with Mercyhurst North East.

They also join a large contingent of Dragons to take the next step to college baseball in recent years. For Loomis, he will be reunited with an old high school teammate – Lance Baldensperger, who will be competing in his freshman season with the Thunder Wolves in the spring, under the direction of head coach Matt Clingersmith.

Hunter Loomis delivers a pitch for the Dragons during a game this past April.

Although he chose Niagara for his own reasons, the thought of playing again with Baldensperger is something he is looking forward to.

“I chose Niagara because I thought they would be the best fit,” he said. “They have a good program and they really work your arm strength in recruiting pretty well. Lance said he really likes it. He said if I want to work hard and play their than that would be the place.”

Loomis’ hard work paid off in his junior season this past spring. Despite not seeing a lot of time at his top position, catcher, due to the presence of Division I prospect Aidan Morrison (now at Canisius), he found other ways to get on the field.

Loomis served as the Dragons’ primary designated hitter in the early part of the season

and also carved out a major role on the mound as well.

He was part of one of the most formidable pitching staffs in District 10, as one of four players on the team, along with Rafalski, Grosch and Ben Berdine to post a sub-2 ERA. He checked in at a 1.79 mark in 15 2/3 innings pitched with five walks and 14 strikeouts, to go along with a pair of saves, as he was mostly used in relief.

At the plate, he hit an even .300, showing positive gap power.

Despite not seeing a lot of time behind the plate during the high school season, he was able to do so with his travel team, the Northeast Twins, catching the attention of college coaches in the process.

“I’m really looking forward to that experience of playing college baseball that I’ve been working so hard for,” he said.

And while he’s had plenty of coaches along the way, including coach Rick Eaton and his staff at the high school level, he points to home when talking about his biggest influence.

“I would say my dad (Matt),” he noted. “And Ryan’s (Rafalski’s) dad (Jason, who is an assistant coach for the Dragons. They’ve been pushing me and making me work hard for what I want.”

Loomis, along with his senior teammates, will have one final ride with the Dragons this season, as they look to defend their District 10 championship. After that, it’s off to carrying on the long and proud tradition of Warren baseball players who have gone on to play in college.

“Keep working and keep your grades up,” he said of what he’s learned the most from playing high school baseball.

And as for carrying on that Dragon tradition?

“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” he said. “Just to get to go play college ball just like everyone you’ve looked up to.”

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