After an intense tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, the Vanderbilt Commodores have won the 2014 College World Series, becoming NCAA champions—and there were a few players who were key to their title run.
After surviving the double-elimination bracket, the Commodores were able to make it to the final series against the Virginia Cavaliers. They were able to win a close one in Game 1 by a single run at 9-8, but the Cavaliers came back with a 7-2 victory on Tuesday. The Commodores won the final game 3-2 thanks to an eighth-inning home run from John Norwood.
Now that Vanderbilt's magical run has ended with a national title—its first men's national championship in any sport—let's take a look at some of the players who helped them win it all.
With the entire season on the line on Wednesday night, the Commodores gave Carson Fulmer the opportunity to start. Thanks to his strong outing along with an entire season of strong outings, Fulmer helped put his team in position to win.
Fulmer pitched 5.1 innings, although it took him 103 pitches to do so. He allowed just three hits and one earned run while striking out five. Heading into the final game, he had a terrific 2.00 ERA with 90 strikeouts and a 7-1 record along with 10 saves.
As David Climer from The Tennessean points out, it was a strong performance from Fulmer considering he had gotten just three days of rest.
Carson Fulmer's 103-pitch effort on three days' rest is a gutsy performance. He deserves better than a no-decision. VU 2, UVa 2.— David Climer (@DavidClimer) June 26, 2014
With Fulmer such a reliable and versatile option for the Commodores this year, it seemed only fitting that he finished the season with a solid start to help his team.
While Fulmer got things started with a great start, Adam Ravenelle was able to shut things down and was on the bottom of the dogpile after he was able to help Vanderbilt close out the ninth inning.
The Commodores called upon Ravenelle to relieve Hayden Stone after Stone had thrown 1.2 innings but failed to get an out in the eighth, giving up a single and a walk.
Ravenelle helped the team get out of a bases-loaded jam, settling down after accidentally hitting a batter. He got the save with zero hits allowed and two strikeouts. Ravenelle had the lowest ERA for the entire Vanderbilt pitching staff at just 1.35 with hitters hitting under .150 on the year.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin has been impressed with how much Ravenelle has grown during his time with the team, both on and off the field.
"Rav has come a long way since he stepped on campus," Corbin said after he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. "He has always had very good athleticism and a clean, strong arm. He is now putting all of it together and becoming very skilled. There is a tremendous amount of consistency in his life ... his disposition, his investment level, his academics and now his performance."
Ravenelle was the most reliable pitcher coming out of the bullpen all season for Vanderbilt, and that was the case once again on Wednesday.
It was a terrific College World Series run for Dansby Swanson, and because of that, he was named the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament.
"Anything is possible when we stick to our guns... I thought we were the best team out there," Swanson told Nick Cole from The Tennessean after the win.
Swanson went 2-for-5 at the plate on Wednesday with a run scored and a stolen base, helping him finish the year with a .333 batting average, the second-highest on the team behind Bryan Reynolds. He also finished with three home runs, 34 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
Along with a hot bat, Swanson made plenty of defensive plays to save the Commodores. The combination of his hitting and fielding made him a worthy recipient of the Most Outstanding Player award.