Caleb Lomavita thrives on a challenge.
Picking a college with 32 offers on the table certainly qualifies. Lomavita committed to Cal in November of 2019. Then COVID-19 cast its shadow and ended his junior season at Saint Louis barely a week into the regular season.
Since then, the versatile Lomavita has stayed busy. He loves to catch, he can pitch and play third base more than capably. Simplicity is the goal, but as always, won’t be easily achieved. Not in the near future with virtual learning.
“I sit on my computer for hours, 7:30 in the morning to 2:30. It’s insane. I don’t think I’ll be able to do that all year,” Lomavita said on Sunday night.
The senior will do the work almost flawlessly, just like his performance on the diamond. Lomavita has a 3.93 grade-point average and takes pride in being a leader of a Crusaders program that continues to play at an elite level despite having no field, not even a diamond, of its own.
“It was all attitude and mindset as a team. We took what we got and made the best of it,” he said. “Especially the coaches there, they’re on every single player. Grades come first, then you can play on the field.”
Lomavita’s season was cut short in March. Saint Louis’ ILH and state title hopes sunk. He stayed in shape anyway.
“I’d just started lifting with my friends at uncle (Abe Lobetos)’ house. He played for Campbell,” he said.
Lomavita went to California in June to play with TB SoCal, which managed to enter five tournaments over a two-month span despite multiple cancellations across the West Coast.
“I left on June 15. It was up in the air. One tournament would get cancelled, then we’d play in another one in Arizona. We played every other week,” he said.
The Area Code games in Atlanta followed. He was on the younger California/Hawaii team in 2019 with six other island players. This time, with the older group, he was the lone islander.
“My dad (Sione) surprised me. He came up and we flew to Atlanta,” said Lomavita, who experienced baseball in North Carolina two years earlier.
“Atlanta was the exact same. Sticky, 98 degrees and 100 percent humidity,” he said.
His Area Code team was assembled by the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I played in four games. The East Coast scouts didn’t really know anything about us,” Lomavita said. “The scout that put us on the team couldn’t travel because of the MLB restrictions, so the coach would get the lineup from the scout and he’d go from there, I guess.”
Lomavita played third base in the first three games, and he pitched in relief to close the second contest.
“I touched 92 mph,” he said.
He caught the fourth game and had some fun moments.
“I still like catching the most. It’s the most times anybody has tried to steal on me. I threw out three guys, two in one inning. After that, they kind of figured it out,” Lomavita said. “I think they were going for scouts’ looks. For me, it’s never been about shaving off time. Just being consistent and if I’m on that day, I’m on.”
He still enjoys his utility skills.
“I like playing all over, I guess. I get to show off my athleticism a little, my glove work, my arm. I get bored when I get complacent,” Lomavita said. “Wherever they need me and as long as I’m on the field, I’m happy with it.”
At the plate, he faced major heat.
“I saw the best pitchers in the country. There’s this guy from the Yankees team throwing 96 to 100 (mph), Chase Petty. I learned a lot about myself. I could’ve done better, I feel like, but it showed what I can work on,” Lomavita said.
Petty is considered the top pitching prospect of the 2021 MLB Draft.
One of the perks of being selected to play in Area Code games, of course, is swag: stuff we all get. Players, that is.
“Last year we got more when shipments were on time, but we still got a pair of cleats, a pair of turfs and running shoes. All New Balance,” he said. “We got three batting practice jackets and slides (slippers),” Lomavita said. “They gave us an old hickory bat with our name on it.”
“I have a ton of bats with my name on it,” said Lomavita, who uses a 33/30. “We also got the uniform and a Brewers hat.”
Coming home after two months on the road put the busy athlete in rest mode. He quarantined for the mandatory two weeks.
“I kind of had to get my own workout regimen with whatever I had in the house. I have a 45 (pound) plate, so I worked my legs, arms and core,” he said.
He also had his parents (Sione and Kehau) and sister (Carlee) pitch bottle caps while he hit.
“I I don’t have a tee, but I made them stand about four feet away and they would try to flick the bottle caps and blow it by me. I hit about 100 a night. Whatever’s in the recycle bin. We have to take them off anyway to recycle,” Lomavita said. “Half the time, I used a wife bat. Just to keep my strength, I’d use my bat sometimes.”
Saint Louis coach George Gusman has relied on leaders like Lomavita.
“I’m really blessed because kids like Caleb and Aiva (Arquette), Jaden Pieper and Hunter Hirayama, those guys are not afraid to work and they don’t say too much to the younger guys, but they see what they’re doing,” Gusman said. “They don’t want to get left behind. They learn how they handle their business.”
Lomavita also made himself useful in another way with his hands.
“I made my mom a little garden in the back. I built it. It’s a wooden box, four feet by six feet,” Lomavita said. “You can’t really do nothing at home. She kinds of forces you without telling you.”
Lomavita began playing baseball before kindergarten.
“I was 4 in Ewa Little League. In Junior Little League, we made it to the regionals up in San Jose. Back then I was a shortstop/pitcher. Then it was Ewa Pony baseball,” he said. “I went to Saint Louis in eighth grade. Freshman year I started to learn catching. (Coach) Lana Akau worked with me.”
Though coaches and players have said they would play any time of the school year, there is no plan to move spring sports to an earlier date.
“Oh yeah. I’m fine with any baseball at this point. If we started up now, I’d be ready to go,” he said.
Top 3 movies/shows
1. Umbrella Academy. “I saw the whole thing on plane rides. I was on the plane a lot.”
2. On my Block. “That’s a good Netflix show about these three kids. They’re in high school.”
3. Black Panther. “It’s pretty sad that (Chadwick Boseman) died.”
Top 3 food/snacks/drinks
1. Waimanalo Gushers lemon peel. “That’s my favorite snack of all time. It’s on everything.”
2. Korean fried chicken from Zippy’s. “I was craving that all the time when I was up (on the mainland).”
3. Arnold Palmer lemonade/iced tea. “It’s part of the Arizona brand.”
Lomavita: “Coach Gus and Coach Benny (Bonilla). Coach Benny took good care of me up there. And Coach Donny Kadokawa. He kind of led me into travel ball and he’s a big part of my success.”
Time machine: the future
Lomavita: “I feel like I’ve done enough this summer to get drafted. I’m not sure when, but if not, I’ll take the college route. I don’t have a (round) number in my head. Whatever it is, I’ll talk to my parents about it and we’ll go from there.”