NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Josh Heddinger tossed a complete-game two-hitter and Mitch Earnest belted a two-run homer, as Georgia Tech stayed alive and forced another game with a 5-0 victory over Vanderbilt Sunday night at Hawkins Field.
The two teams play again Monday at 6:05 p.m. CT in game seven, with the winner advancing to play Louisville in a Super Regional.
The Yellow Jackets (37-26) won a pair of games on Sunday, scoring four times in the ninth inning to defeat Illinois, 6-3. Tech kept that momentum in the nightcap, scoring a run in the first and breaking the game open with a three-run sixth inning, capped by Earnest's two-run shot over the wall in left.
But the story of the night was Heddinger (3-0), who worked a career-best nine innings and gave up a leadoff single to Tony Kemp in the first and a one-out single in the third to Quentin Turner. The right-hander walked six and struck out three, stranding runners in four of the first innings before retiring 13 of the last 14 batters of the contest.
"Their kid (Heddinger) pitched a very good game," Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "There isn't much you can say about that. He pitched well, he pitched through the game and we weren't able to really mount any attack. We just had nothing going in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth."
Mott Hyde collected three hits and Kyle Wren added two, with both players scoring a run for the Yellow Jackets in the victory.
Walker Buehler (4-3) took the loss for Vanderbilt, allowing five runs on 10 hits in six innings. The freshman walked one and struck out six and did not pitch badly until his one big mistake that Earnest tattooed over the wall in left.
Georgia Tech took an early lead in the contest with a run in the first after the Commodores stranded Kemp at third with one out in the top of the frame.
Wren singled to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Thomas Smith. Zane Evans singled off the glove of Kemp into centerfield, plating Wren for a 1-0 edge.
In the fourth Brandon Thomas reached on an infield single that bounced on top of the plate and went straight into the air, giving catcher Spencer Navin no chance to make the play. With one out Hyde doubled to the wall in rightfield and Daniel Spingola's groundout to second scored Thomas for a 2-0 Tech lead.
The Yellow Jackets added to the advantage in the sixth, starting with a leadoff single to center from A.J. Murray. Hyde failed to get the bunt attempt down, but redeemed himself with a double just inside the leftfield line.
Murray was stopping at third until Jack Lupo bobbled the ball near the wall, prompting head coach Danny Hall to send the runner to the plate. A good relay throw from Vince Conde nailed Murray, but a two-out single off the end of the bat into left-center from Matt Gonzalez plated Hyde. Earnest followed with a two-run blast over the wall in left, his third homer of the season, giving Tech a 5-0 lead.
Vanderbilt stranded eight runners in the loss, including two each in the first, fourth and fifth innings. A pair of two-out walks in both the fourth and fifth set up threats for VU, but Navin and Connor Harrell both grounded out to third to end the innings.
Navin thinks the Commodores will be up to the task tomorrow.
"Loser goes home now, but we have to treat it like any other game," he said. "We're going to come out ready to go just like they are. It's going to be a battle."
His head coach agreed.
"We'll sleep it off and take a good shower and make sure we wash everything off," Corbin concluded.