Champaign, Ill. - Vanderbilt clinched a return trip to the College World Series with a 4-2 win at Illinois on Monday afternoon.
The Illini (50-10) struck first with a run in the first inning but Vanderbilt (47-19) used the long ball to get back in the game with a Zander Wiel homer in the second inning and a Dansby Swanson solo homer in the fourth after Illinois had reclaimed the lead.
The two teams went into the sixth inning tied 2-2 but a leadoff double from Swanson started a Commodore rally. Swanson stole third before Bryan Reynolds came up clutch with a two-out, two-strike single to center field to put the Commodores in front for good.
Back out for the seventh, VU starter Philip Pfeifer found trouble with a two-out double but Ben Bowden entered and struck out Reid Roper to end the inning and the threat. Bowden worked himself into a bases loaded jam in the eighth after Rhett Wiseman's bunt single in the bottom of the seventh pushed the Vandy lead to 4-2. With the bases loaded, Freshman All-American Kyle Wright was summoned from the pen and quickly put out the fire with a fly out to right field and a strikeout to get the Dores back in the dugout with a two-run lead intact. Back out for the ninth, Wright worked a 1-2-3 inning to send the Commodores back to Omaha for the second straight year and third time in school history.
Pfeifer earned the win allowing two runs on seven hits over 6.2 innings. The lefty settled in allowing only three base runners over his final 3.2 innings. Wright picked up his third save of the season recording the final five outs.
Swanson led the way with a double and his team-best 15th home run of the season. Wiel and Wiseman each chipped in two hits apiece.
Following the game Swanson was selected first overall in the major league baseball draft joining David Price as the only two Commodores to be picked first overall. Vanderbilt is now the second college to have multiple top picks along with Arizona State. Swanson is the first college shortstop to be the top pick and first since Bill Almon was selected No. 1 by San Diego out of Brown in 1974. Carson Fulmer was picked eighth overall by the Chicago White Sox and Walker Buehler was selected 24th overall by Los Angeles Dodgers to form the first-ever, first-round trio of Commodores. The three juniors are believed to be the highest selected teammates in the history of the draft.
Vanderbilt returns to Omaha this weekend to take on Cal State Fullerton on Sunday night at TD Ameritrade Park.