Regional-bound Frogs face underdog Siena Friday night

The Saints may be an unknown to some, but TCU refuses to look past them.

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Junior pitcher Brandon Finnegan speaks to the media before Wednesday's practice. Finnegan will make the start against Siena in the opening round of the Fort Worth Regional Friday night. (TCU 360/Jordan Ray) Junior pitcher Brandon Finnegan speaks to the media before Wednesday's practice. Finnegan will make the start against Siena. (TCU 360/Jordan Ray) A sign posted on TCU's dugout. The Frogs will host Siena in the opening round of the Fort Worth Regional Friday night. (TCU 360/Jordan Ray) Head coach Jim Schlossnagle speaks with the media prior to his team's practice Wednesday. (TCU 360/Jordan Ray) The Frogs will begin their postseason Friday night at 7:00 p.m. from Lupton Stadium. (TCU 360/Jordan Ray)

With a Big 12 title and national seed in hand, it’d be easy for No. 10 TCU baseball to look past Friday night’s matchup. 

Two Lone Star State teams await the Frogs and a 26-31 MAAC-team from upstate New York just doesn’t seem to belong. Nonetheless, that’s the team TCU drew in its first game. 

For Horned Frog head coach Jim Schlossnagle and his squad though, Siena is just another opponent on another night in Lupton Stadium.

“You don’t win 27 out of 30 games by putting your head in the clouds,” Schlossnagle said.

A sign on TCU’s dugout reads “Don’t Take the Cheese,” a mantra Schlossnagle has driven into his players’ brains repeatedly.

“[Siena] as a whole started off not very hot,” third baseman Derek Odell said. “They’ve got it going as of late. And that’s what the postseason’s about. It’s not about the best team. It’s about who plays the best.”

The Saints lost their first 17 games and opened conference tournament play with a 5-3 loss in 12 innings. 

Siena bounced back in the double-elimination format though, winning four straight and earning the fourth-seed in the Fort Worth Regional. They've won six of their last seven.

"I think they've won 22 of [their last] 29," Schlossnagle said. "This time of year, you're either going to play a really good team or a really hot team or both. That's what we're anticipating."

Despite the Saints’ 0-9 record against major conference opponents, Schlossnagle also mentioned his team knows their season can end quickly now, regardless of prior accomplishments.

“They’re very aware that this time of year your season can come to a grinding halt fast,” Schlossnagle said. 

“It’s been driven home time and time and time again. You don’t end up with an RPI like we ended up with by having bad losses. You have to have good wins, but you also have to avoid bad losses.” 

Northeast programs like Siena will usually bring veteran-heavy and senior-laden teams, Schlossnagle said. The Saints have 14 juniors and seniors on the roster. 

“They’re not afraid of anything,” he said. “They relish being the underdog and they can come into a place like this [feeling] like they’re the have not instead of the have so they play with a huge edge.”

Junior pitcher Brandon Finnegan will make the start against Siena and further emphasized he and his team won’t be the ones caught looking over the Saints' shoulders. 

“We’re gonna take them as one of the best teams in the country,” Finnegan said. “We’re gonna go out and play our game just like we have been.”

“Right now, the way we’re playing, it’s gonna be hard to beat us, especially on our home turf.”

First pitch for the game is at 7:00 p.m. from Lupton Stadium. 

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