Langley Blaze lads watch Lawrie from Buffalo
*CF Mike Krische (Langley, BC) is one of three west coast Canucks, all Langley Blaze grads, with the Canisius Golden Griffins and he had four hits in a series opener against the Iona Gaels/Photos: Alexis Brudnicki ….
By Alexis Brudnicki
BUFFALO, N.Y. –- What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words, “Langley, British Columbia”?
For players who made their way in through the successful Langley Blaze program, and even for those who just live in the small city in western Canada, Lawrie is the story. He’s a hero, an inspiration and a source of pride.
Even a few time zones, a country, and a passport check later, playing for Canisius College in Buffalo, the former Blaze members can’t get away from questions about the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman.
“They sure do,” outfielder Mike Krische said of people asking about Lawrie. “He’s obviously well-known and he’s made an impact in the big leagues already, so we get a few questions, especially coming from the same program.”
“Not only in Langley but just in Canada in general,” Stewart said. “There are a lot of big names coming up through [the Langley Blaze] system lately and it’s definitely good for Canadian baseball.”
The native of Maple Ridge, BC watches the progress of his predecessor on a daily basis, not only to keep up, but also because the only man born in the 1990s with two walk-off home runs is a fun guy to watch.
“I’m [on the computer] almost every day to see what he’s done,” Stewart said of Lawrie. “I love watching him play. He ignites offenses and the whole team. It’s nice to watch.”
So what kinds of questions are these Canisius players getting about the former Blaze member?
“What kind of guy was he, what kind of work ethic he had, what he would do, that type of thing,” Griffins catcher Brooklyn Foster said. “I have nothing but good things to say about him.”
“It’s pretty impressive what [Lawrie] has done,” the 21-year-old said. “I got to see him over Christmas break back in Langley, swinging there. We talked for a little bit. It’s impressive, everything he’s doing and how he’s representing Canada so well.”
The three Langley members, who played in coach Doug Mathieson‘s program, along with the 12 other Canadians on the roster at Canisius are representing Canada pretty well on their own in Division-I baseball.
Foster, the veteran of the BC group, has played in 42 of the 48 games for the Griffins. He has been productive out of the bottom of the order, notching two home runs, five doubles and driving in 20 runs so far on the season.
Krische has made 26 starts, with one of his best coming in Friday afternoon’s game. From the lead-off spot, the centre fielder had four hits in a matchup that saw the team total only seven. The 18-year-old started the game off with a double, scored and stole a base in the losing effort. He’s hitting .244 in 33 games with two doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs.
Stewart is 3-3 on the year with a 4.28 ERA in 11 starts on the mound. The right-hander is the owner of the team’s only two complete-game efforts of the year. The freshman has thrown 69 1/3 innings, walking 21 batters to go with 41 strikeouts.
The three BC boys tend to stick together, and were even more drawn to the school because of each other. Krische knew that Foster was already enjoying his time at Canisius when he was looking at schools, and Stewart knew that Krische was going to be heading to Buffalo at the same time he was thinking of doing so.
“Maybe a little,” Krische said on whether he thought he influenced Stewart’s decision to come to Canisius. “It’s always nice to go to college and experience it with another guy you know. We obviously knew Brooklyn from playing for the same team. And we had another guy here a few years back.
“It’s awesome because we’re dorming together too, so it’s good in that sense. But it’s a good school, so that was a major influence.”
While the two west coast rookies spend all their time together, even having all the same classes and sharing the same major in biology, they’ve had a blast with the rest of their Canadian teammates and the American ones as well.
“It’s been an absolutely awesome experience,” Krische said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s good to get away from home obviously. That’s what I was looking to do; come down south and play some baseball. This is a great group of guys.”