A product of Marietta High School, the sophomore second baseman knew Vanderbilt’s chances of winning were good in the top of the first inning, once he beat out an infield grounder. He went on to steal third in the same inning and score the game’s first run on a throwing error by Virginia.
“It was a tone-setter,” Swanson said of his hit. “We had to be aggressive.”
The Commodores stayed aggressive, especially on the basepaths, and went their first College World Series title — and the first NCAA championship for any Vanderbilt men’s team — with a 3-2 victory.
For Swanson, hardly any words could describe the feelings of victory once the final out was recorded. It was a celebration that lasted much longer than the one night in Omaha, Neb.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Swanson said. “It all happened so fast. It’s such an honor to get back in (to Nashville, Tenn.) and to a university that’s been supporting us.”
Swanson said roughly 1,000 fans had gathered in front of the Commodores’ home field when the buses first arrived on campus the day after the title-clincher. By the end of the welcome-home ceremony, an estimated 4,000 fans were on-site.
After all the players were introduced, Swanson, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, university chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, athletic director David Williams and coach Tim Corbin all gave speeches.
The speeches could have not been possible without the effort of Swanson, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series after batting .323 with two RBIs, five runs scored and three stolen bases. He was also error-free in the field.
“It’s an incredible blessing,” Swanson said of the individual accolade. “I had no idea I would get that. I wouldn’t have done it without my teammates. I have to give credit to the rest of them.”
Looking back on the College World Series, Swanson recalled a few key plays he made that helped Vanderbilt win.
Swanson hit a two-run double in a 5-3 win over Louisville, a game that lasted nearly four hours. In the Commodores’ 6-4 win over UC Irvine the following day, Swanson was 3-for-5 and made a running defensive catch in the ninth inning to help preserve the win.
He was 2-for-5 in a 4-3, 10-inning win over Texas that put Vanderbilt into the championship series, and he was 1-for-3 with a pair of walks in Commodores’ 9-8 win over Virginia in the finals opener.
This was a breakout season for Swanson compared to the one he had as a freshman, when he appeared in just 11 games before a shoulder injury ended his season.
He came back to start 71 games this season and hit .332 for the year. He also tallied 27 doubles and 34 RBIs, hit three home runs and stole 31 bases.