By Rick Assad
Every time Aidan Cremarosa, a hard-throwing right-hander took the mound for the Burroughs High baseball team, there was a sense that the opponent was going to have a tough time scoring runs.
This was the case because the junior had an ace in the hole and that’s his heater was always ready to be unleashed.
“For me, my fastball sets up everything and I would consider it my best pitch,” he said of the pitch that sits in the low-90s and when it’s working, allows him to escape most jams.
The pitcher versus hitter confrontation is the essence of a showdown and it’s at the heart of baseball.
“I don’t think about anything else other than being better than the guy in the batter’s box at everything,” said Cremarosa, who tossed 37 and two-third innings, posting a 1.30 earned-run average while carving out a 6-2 record.
When the heat is on and the game is on the line, it’s important to stay in the moment and focus on what’s in front of you.
“To stay calm, I usually try to think about the task at hand and not let anything get to me,” said Cremarosa, who when not on the mound played shortstop and batted .323 with a .614 on-base percentage while stealing nine bases.
Cremarosa is the Bears’ best and most-effective pitcher and is glad that he’s able to shoulder the responsibility.
Just as important as having the vaunted fastball, Cremarosa is smart, possessing an impressive 4.3 grade-point average.
So if his arsenal isn’t working the way it normally does, Cremarosa will find a way to get out of the situation by thinking his way through the problem.
“I feel as if being the staff ace is a job that I have taken and work hard to keep,” he said. “I do like the pressure because I feel like that’s when I perform the best and have the most fun.”
Getting the ball to do what the pitcher wants is what differentiates good from very good and getting first-pitch strikes is the key building block.
“I’m able to be effective because of my ability to throw strikes,” admitted Cremarosa, who struck out 50 batters and also picked up two saves.
After a truncated 2020 season because of the coronavirus, Burroughs played a nearly-full schedule this year.
The Bears played well at times and poorly in other spots, going 12-12 in all games and 8-6 in the Pacific League for fourth place.
The Bears’ season started off on the wrong foot with five straight setbacks, losing 7-4 at Monrovia, 5-2 against visiting South Pasadena, 6-5 versus Los Altos in a tournament, 5-4 against Los Osos in a tourney and 7-5 versus host Simi Valley.
The losing streak was snapped with a 5-1 decision versus host El Camino Real in a tourney matchup.
A 6-4 triumph over visiting Etiwanda in a tournament followed.
The league schedule commenced with a 9-2 setback at home against Arcadia and a 10-4 defeat versus visiting Pasadena.
Burroughs earned a 7-1 victory at Pasadena and knocked off Glendale 11-1 on the road and then defeated the visiting Nitros 4-2.
After dropping a 6-2 decision to host Crescenta Valley, the Bears shut out the Falcons 2-0 in what was the signature win of the season.
A 6-0 blanking versus visiting Salesian in a tournament was followed with a 4-1 triumph over visiting Muir.
The Mustangs bounced back with an 8-2 victory against the visiting Bears and Burroughs then routed visiting Hoover 10-1.
The Bears dropped a 9-2 decision at Arcadia and then smacked host Hoover 10-0.
Burroughs then faced visiting Burbank and prevailed 4-3, but then lost 2-0 on the road at the Bulldogs.
Burroughs’ next-to-last game was a 5-1 win at Arroyo and then closed the campaign with a 5-2 loss at Malibu.
Clearly the schedule wasn’t easy on the players or the coaching staff and that included Matt Magallon, the head coach.
“Due to COVID-19 my team and I had to face the challenges of not being able to practice or play together,” said Cremarosa of the 2021 season that saw the Bears fail to make the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Magallon knows that he has a special player in Cremarosa, who can stifle even the best lineups.
“It’s definitely been a delight to have Aidan on the team. He’s been a true leader and he’s always willing to help the younger guys,” he said.
Magallon also sees the desire and the passion that Cremarosa possesses and despite the obvious skill and talent, is a hard-worker and extremely unselfish.
“He wants to be successful and he wants the team to be successful,” he noted. “That’s part of our culture. The program comes above us all.”
Taking the approach that every outing is critical, Cremarosa was cognizant that each game was separate.
“I have that approach because it doesn’t matter who is in the other dugout,” he said. “All that matters is what you can control and a lot of the time if you are worried about the other team, you already lost the game.”
Emerging with a victory isn’t always possible, but the act of competing and staying positive is what separates those who succeed and those who come up short.
“For me, it is pretty simple. If I had a poor outing, I go back out the next day and tell myself to be better,” said Cremarosa, who handled 52 chances in the field and committed just three errors, of his strong-willed mental outlook.
Cremarosa’s season was a series of extremely strong outings and a handful of average showings.
In the season’s two games with Burbank, the Bears split a pair of matches with their longtime rival.
These matchups, regardless of the sport, are always exciting and tense, and they bring out the best in the athletes.
“The experience for me was great even though we didn’t end up winning,” he said of the two games with the Bulldogs. “I felt like that was a great game and I am excited to get back on the mound against them one last time.”
It’s the baseball off-season, but conditioning and being ready is essential for every player, including Cremarosa, who when in doubt or is stuck in a difficult situation, can always rely on his fastball to get batters out.