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NOLL GRAD ANDY LOOMIS READY FOR RAILCATS RETURN IN BULLPEN

Thursday, May 14, 2015 • POSTED BY:   Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com

GARY | Somewhere between a night job at Con-Way Freights, a day job as a student at Kaplan College and two afternoon gigs teaching pitching lessons and coach with the Griffith baseball team, Andy Loomis worked kept up a pitching schedule.

Loomis, a Bishop Noll grad who reached as high as Triple-A baseball within the Baltimore Orioles organization, enters his second year with the RailCats in a role that can only be taken on by a 29-year-old.

With 16 pitchers in RailCats spring training camp, Loomis is surrounded by rookies. He enters this year having pitched 317 2/3 innings in seven seasons of professional baseball, nine of those coming last year with the RailCats. 

When Loomis was added to the 'Cats late last season, he signed a two-year contract with the team, guaranteeing his services with the hope that affiliated baseball would see his success after 2013 Tommy John surgery.

"He was on the verge of making it to the big leagues and when you get a taste of it, it's right there and he's working hard to get that done," RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. "That's the best of both worlds, we think."

A reliever by trade — Loomis has started twice in his pro career — the lefty will be among the few pitchers working on specific pitches through spring training while the others are working to earn a job.

That's OK with Loomis, who is done with school for the semester, finished individual pitching lessons, and is still working with the Panthers' pitching staff as time around RailCats preseason provides. Loomis is expected to see preseason innings on Thursday in an 11:10 a.m. game against American Association foe St. Paul.

The loyalty at Con-Way is akin to that of the RailCats, so Loomis hopes to continue his job as long as possible. The RailCats play a 50-game home schedule in their 100-games season.

"I've talked to my work and I'm going to come in when I can," Loomis said. "I'm going to make sure it's not affecting my game, I'm going to be there as much as I can, they've been so grateful with me helping me out, I don't just want to walk out, 'I'm done.'"

His dedication to his many jobs is part and parcel to what the RailCats expect out of their pitchers. The running and workout schedule that pitchers adhere to is unlike the average independent baseball team.

"I hope to help them out in anyway possible," Loomis said. "I know, I was a rookie at one time and I was confused not knowing what I was getting myself into. Hopefully I can help them if they've got questions, I can answer questions or make things a lot more comfortable for them, to be a lot smoother process so that they're not stressed but worrying about doing something well.

"I can say, 'this is what we expect, this is how you should do this, or think about this in different situations' and give them an idea of how the game is different than college baseball."

Despite the work that surrounded his school during the offseason, Loomis said that he maintained a 4.0 grade point average while working on his degree in health care administration.

Asked if being a RailCat would be job No. 4 for him this year, he answered quickly: "I would put this as No. 1 for me."