* Speedy OF Mike Krische (Langley, BC) has 46 steals in his first three years with the Canisius Golden Griffins -- 12 short of school record. .....
By Alexis Brudnicki BUFFALO _ Mike Krische is happy with the decision he made.
Finishing up high school at Brookswood Secondary School in Langley, BC four years ago, the outfielder had numerous opportunities to continue playing baseball.
Weighing several junior college offers, Krische opted for the first Division-I school to give him an opportunity, Canisius College.
Now entering his senior season playing for Canadian head coach Mike McRae with the Golden Griffins, the 21-year-old will have a biology degree under his belt when the school year ends, with thoughts of someday attending medical school. He’s also managed three years on the field with a team that has been in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference final each season, with Krische and the squad winning the championship in his sophomore year.
“Out of high school I had a lot of [junior college] offers, with help from [Langley Blaze] coach Doug Mathieson,” Krische said. “He had a lot of connections down south with some JUCOs like New Mexico, and some in Arizona. I personally wanted to go to a four-year school right after high school.
“Both of my parents were in education and were leaning toward that too. Canisius was my first offer to a four-year and I came on my visit and loved it … I wanted to work toward my future so a four-year school was a really good choice for me personally. I am really happy with my decision and I’ve had a good four years.”
At the tail end of his collegiate career, the idea of the impending season is bittersweet for Krische. While he is excited to get out on the field and play, he knows this will be his last chance with his Griffs teammates as they hope to get further down the road to Omaha than ever before.
“It’s scary but I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I want to go out with a bang. In terms of a goal, I want to win another championship with my team. That’s the No. 1 priority. Obviously I want to have myself a good year as well; something to remember. But I’m just trying to enjoy everything and work toward something here.”
In both Krische’s freshman and junior seasons, Canisius suffered heartbreaking losses in their final moments, and they are hoping to avoid more of the same this year.
“Unfortunately I’ve had two of those in my career here, where they’ve been taken away from us in the last day or two,” Krische said. “It lights a fire under the guys, that’s for sure. It makes you want it that much more.
“We obviously have a lot of work to do if we want to get back to where we were last year. We were at a pretty high point and [it ended with] just one day of baseball unfortunately for us. But we can definitely get back to where we were and even better with our team this year.”
The college’s squad grew especially close last year, helping one another through triumph and tragedy. The team rallied around Brett Siddall and Jimmy Luppens, in their sophomore and senior seasons respectively, as Siddall’s 14-year-old brother Kevin battled lymphoma and Luppens’ mother Lilianne fought breast cancer, a trying time that Krische believes will help them as a team moving forward.
“This year’s team is good,” he said. “We’re all very close. We have good team chemistry and everyone gets along and it’s exciting. Last year was a pretty special year. We had a few pretty tragic events, with Brett’s brother and Jimmy’s mom, I think that really brought us close together as a group.
“We have a good understanding of when to back off of each other or when to bring each other up. We’re picking each other up all the time, so that’s exciting and awesome to be a part of. We’re going to be right back with last year’s team with our meshwork this year.”
One of the highlights of last season for the Griffs was an 18-game win streak that took the team into the conference final. Though the year ended with two losses Siena in the championship, leading the nation with 18 consecutive wins was a special thing to be a part of.
“It was incredible,” Krische said. “Everyone was riding such a high and no one could wait to play the next game. Having the longest win streak in the nation is definitely something that takes notice on a national scale. Everyone was excited to play and wanted to do even better and extend it, so it was awesome to be a part of a team that has that capability.”
Though the team has lost some of the veteran players and more vocal leaders that Krische began his Canisius playing days with, he doesn’t think the current team will have any trouble filling those holes.
“I’ve growing into [the leadership role] more than the past couple years,” Krische said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple other guys like [Brooklyn] Foster and [Chris] Gruarin, who [led] the guys from the beginning, and led by example.
“Some of the other guys on the team now and I are definitely taking on that role, which is pretty important. But we have a good meshwork of guys here, and we have the leadership this year to make up for the guys we lost.”
The senior outfielder has learned plenty both on and off the field during his time in Buffalo and is hoping to utilize everything he’s gained as he closes out his final season.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about the game,” the west coaster said. “It’s entirely different than it was in high school. Personal performance, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I haven’t found that consistency that I’ve wanted to, but I’ve learned a lot. It’s a lot about working with the guys, and you’ve got to learn how to play for you, and what talents you have, and how to display those on the field.”
Krische’s speed has been his most valuable asset during his time on the diamond with the Golden Griffins. With 46 stolen bases through his first three years, he has more than anyone in program history over the same time span, and is just 12 steals shy of a Canisius record.
Looking to make his last year his best, the leadoff hitter is hoping to help his team to another championship. If his numbers happen to get him into any draft conversations as a potential senior sign, he wouldn’t mind that possibility either.
“It’s everyone’s dream to go onto the next level,” Krische said. “If a professional opportunity is there then obviously it’s something I would jump on.
“But over the years I’ve realized it’s about right now, working here with my team and trying to win a [conference] championship and compete at a regional. We’ve been there and it’s something I want to do again. If the opportunity is there [during the draft] and I have a good year, obviously I’m going to dive head into that and see where my baseball career goes.”