By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
Dylan Mersola recently received his high school diploma from Burbank High. Upon further review, Mersola also successfully completed his baseball requirements graduating with honors as a 2013 first-team All-Pacific League selection. The senior standout was a key figure in Burbank’s rise to excellence during the course of his four-year career as a starter for the Bulldogs.
It took a champion to lead a championship team to new heights. Mersola led the team in hitting (.382), hits (29), RBI’s (24), runs (23), walks (21) doubles (seven) and stole nine bases.
“He’s been one of the hardest workers I have ever had. A lot of the stuff is behind the scenes. He gets the work done. He gets in the zone and really focuses. He’s always been the kind of guy where it’s never enough and he knew that he had to do more to get better,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said.
Mersola, 19, is simply a baseball workaholic. He lives, breathes and values the game and understands it’s a privilege to play the sport and not a right. Born and raised in Sun Valley, Mersola came to Burbank High in hopes to play alongside his uncle, Chase, who graduated from BHS in 2010.
“I came here hoping I would play varsity as a freshman and I did. I just wanted to play with him,” Mersola said.
Batting above .300 and playing second base, Mersola had the opportunity to play with Chase and be on a team that had high expectations for the season. But a lackadaisical attitude by the senior class derailed Burbank’s hopes to have the type of season it was expecting.
Slowly but surely, Mersola began to witness a transformation in the program his sophomore year. During the next two years, the Bulldogs went 22-6 overall in league and made the playoffs in his junior and senior seasons.
The best was saved for last as Mersola and 14 other seniors were a part of this year’s league championship team, the first at Burbank High since 1991. The Bulldogs finished 17-9 and 12-2 in league.
“Rain or shine we have been working and improving and it’s really paid off. We really believed in ourselves. We came out every day working hard and good things happened,” said Mersola, who also was a first-team All-League honoree a year ago. “It’s been great. My parents are in a great mood. My friends joke around that they can’t believe we did this. Everyone around school jumped on our bandwagon. It’s been an awesome feeling.”
Led by Mersola, Burbank had set quest on its goal this year to win a league title. With plenty of experience and depth returning from last season, the hopes and dreams were a possibility. Mersola grinded away each day to become the best he could be. After every practice, he would head home and fine tune his swing in the cage in his backyard.
“I can’t get enough of baseball. I come out every day and take ground balls and when I get home I hit in my cage,” Mersola said. “I love hitting. I think about it pretty much non-stop even through my bad at-bats and my good at-bats. I live for it. I feel like this is what I was meant to do is play baseball.”
Working your way to success has been a way of life for Mersola. To have your father alongside the journey made it that much more special for him. Cam Mersola has been Dylan’s inspiration since the age of six when Dylan first donned a baseball uniform.
“My relationship with my dad is really special. He’s with me every single day practicing,” Mersola said. “Without him I don’t know if I would still be playing baseball. I wouldn’t be the same guy I am today.
“My work ethic comes from him. If I’m lazy sleeping in bed he will come wake me up and tell me that someone is getting better than me right now. I will get my ass up and go to work. When I’m down, he picks me up. He’s really the most important person in my life.”
Looking back at his four years, Mersola’s favorite memory was hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as a sophomore to defeat Oxnard, 3-2.
That would change on the evening of May 10, 2013, at Burroughs High School. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and one out away from the elusive league title, Mersola’s emotions were getting the best of him.
“Me and our second baseman (Chris Okimoto) were looking at each other and I was saying, ‘one more out, one more out,’” Mersola explained. “We were getting so pumped up that when he (Ricky Perez) threw that strike we just all went for it.”
The ‘it’ was the dog pile that ensued after Burbank’s 4-1 victory against the Indians clinched a share of the league championship and a season sweep of his rivals.
“That’s what it all about. I couldn’t have been any happier,” Mersola said with a huge smile that personified his satisfaction, fortitude and four years of dedicated hard work. “I was at the bottom. I didn’t think of getting hurt. We were all just screaming.”
Four years gone by. A diploma in one hand and a league title in the other. Hats off to Dylan Mersola.
“Everything about Burbank I love. It’s been awesome. Such a good experience. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Mersola said. “I just want to keep playing baseball wherever it is. I’m going to keep playing until somebody tells me I can’t.”
When asked what Mersola meant to his baseball program, Hart just beamed with pride and reflected upon his durable and reliable senior shortstop just-turned-alum.
“Probably stability more than anything. He was a kid who showed up from the get-go and had the ability to contribute to the varsity level. His consistency is his biggest badge of honor,” Hart said. “He’s the epitome of what we hope guys will do. He made himself a ballplayer. He will be a great addition to any college program.”