Lindbergh grad Kyle Swannack leads Bellevue College to championship, moving on to Washington State | Baseball
By ADAM MCFADDEN
Renton Reporter Staff Writer
June 23, 2011 · 1:50 PM
The first time Bellevue College baseball coach Mark Yoshino met Kyle Swannack, he wasn’t sure about the prospective player.
“His dad was all smiles and did all the talking,” Yoshino said. “Kyle never said a word during the entire visit and didn’t even look at me. He just kept staring at the pictures and other junk in my office. I remember thinking to myself, ‘If this guy comes, he might be a problem. He doesn’t seem interested in getting better’.”
After Swannack, a 2009 Lindbergh graduate, has been with the team for two seasons and helped the Bulldogs to a third NWAACC baseball title in the past five years in May, Yoshino knows the reality.
“I couldn’t have been more off on a guy,” Yoshino said. Swannack came in and immediately was focused on improving his pitching mechanics and getting stronger. Yoshino said both improved “off the charts” in his two years at Bellevue.
Swannack finished this season 9-0. He posted a 1.53 ERA, 66 strikeouts and just nine walks in 76.2 innings. He was a steadying presence all season long, leading the team in innings and wins.
After Bellevue won the NWAACC title, the honors started to roll in for Swannack. The American Baseball Coaches Association named him a junior college All-American. He was named to the All-Tournament team and the MVP of the North Region of the NWAACC. The Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) oversees sports for 36 community colleges. Being a big part of the championship win was a boon for Swannack.
“Pitching in the championship game was the highlight of my year,” he said. “Of course, getting the MVP was really cool, too.”
Swannack allowed two runs on six hits in eight innings to earn the win in an earlier round of the playoffs against Mount Hood. Going in to the title game three days later against Lower Columbia College, he was short on rest and felt the effects right away.
“My arm was really tired and I didn’t have my best stuff,” Swannack said. “But I just tried to battle through it and keep my team in it so we had a shot to win.”
Swannack allowed 10 hits and struck out three but was good enough for the Bulldogs to pull out a 5-3 win.
Swannack will transfer Washington State University on a baseball scholarship. He plans to study kinesiology. Swannack picked WSU after the school was patient with him through a bumpy start to his college career.
“I got a little behind in my academics freshman year,” he said. “They really stuck with me through that.”
Yoshino said Swannack’s ability to contribute right away will endear him to the WSU coaching staff.
“This is a key element for any junior college transfer to be able to contribute immediately,” Yoshino said.
The Cougars went 26-28 overall this season. The team was 10-17 in Pac-10 play, good for ninth in front of the last-place Huskies of UW.
Don’t look for Swannack to just join the team and fit into a useful role.
“I want to be that No. 1 guy,” he said. “But my main goal is to get drafted and make it to the show.”
Scouts from a few teams have been following Swannack, but he wasn’t selected in the MLB Draft earlier this month. His dream all along has been to make the majors.
Swannack was a standout pitcher and third baseman for the Eagles during high school. He finished with a 3.44 ERA his senior year and made the Seamount all-league first team.
“I didn’t even expect to do what I’ve done so far and get this many opportunities,” Swannack said. “It’s been a really fun ride.”
And outside of everything related to baseball that he learned as a Bulldog, Swannack will always remember what a little eye contact can do.
“Now every single time I look in his (Yoshino’s) eyes when he we talk,” he said.
Contact Renton Reporter Staff Writer Adam McFadden at email@example.com or 425-255-3484.