NASHVILLE -- JJ Bleday drilled a walk-off, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to lift Vanderbilt to a 4-3 win over Mississippi State in Game 2 of the NCAA Nashville Super Regional on Saturday night at Hawkins Field.
The long ball, which came on a 2-0 count with one out, vaulted the two teams into a decisive Game 3, scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m. airing on ESPN2. Vandy (35-26) is searching for its fourth trip to the College World Series in the last eight seasons.
The Commodores, who had never led during the Super Regional, were forced to rally from a pair of two-run deficits, ultimately tying the game at three in the eighth as Harrison Ray legged out a one-out triple and Ethan Paul delivered an RBI-single.
Vandy reliever Jackson Gillis tossed three scoreless innings before turning it over to Reid Schaller and Chandler Day, who did not allow a hit in one inning each. Day (2-1) picked up the win, retiring the side on just 10 pitches in the ninth.
Bleday was hitless entering his final at-bat before crushing a fastball over the 400-foot marker in center field. It was the first walk-off home run for the Commodores since Jeren Kendall did so on June 15, 2015, in the opener of the College World Series.
Mississippi State (36-27) opened the scoring in the second, plating two runs on a Jake Mangum two-out single into center. Vandy's Stephen Scott recorded an RBI-single in the third but the Bulldogs answered with a Jordan Westburg run-scoring double in the fourth.
Ty Duvall logged a pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth as all 10 VU batters recorded at least one hit. Austin Martin, Scott and Ray each finished 2-for-4 to lead the Commodores, who produced 13 hits and found the win column, despite leaving runners 10 on base.
Zach Neff (3-3) drew the loss for the Bulldogs, allowing three hits and two runs - including the walk-off homer - in 2.2 innings. Mississippi State totaled nine hits including three from Luke Alexander (3-for-5).