NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin has likened this season to a road trip with the final destination coming later this month in Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.Markers for success along the way -- like being ranked the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, winning the SEC regular-season championship and posting a SEC-record 26 league wins -- have been considered rest stops along the way. Once there, the Commodores allowed themselves to step aside for a few moments, take in the scenery and then re-embark on the journey.That sojourn hit a detour Sunday night in the NCAA regional at Hawkins Field when top-seeded Vanderbilt lost 5-0 to No. 2 seed Georgia Tech. With each team now with one loss in the double-elimination affair, they meet again Monday at 6 p.m. CT in the title game with a berth in the Super Regional next weekend on the line.In being shut out for just the second time this season, Vanderbilt had no answers for sophomore right-handed pitcher Josh Heddinger (3-0), who went the distance and gave up only two hits. Only one Commodore -- leadoff hitter Tony Kemp in his teams first at bat -- reached third base, and Heddinger retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced.The kid (Heddinger) pitched a great game, Corbin said after his teams fifth loss at home this season in 35 games. There is not much you can say about that. He pitched well. He pitched through the game. We werent able to really amount any attack.Then again, Corbin thinks Sunday nights outcome also had to do somewhat with the baseball gods looking the other way. The Commodores hit the ball hard at times, but the Yellow Jackets played exceptional defensively.I think games like this are anomalies, I really do, Corbin said. I dont think they happen much. I tend to think that our team reacts very well to games like these. They have in the past.Either Vanderbilt (53-10), the No. 2 national seed, or Georgia Tech (37-26) will advance to face Louisville in the Super Regional, a best two-out-of-three series next weekend with a berth in the College World Series at stake.
Vandy is seeking its first berth in the CWS since 2011 and second overall. Georgia Tech is playing in its ninth straight regional title game and is trying to make the CWS for a fourth time and first since 2006.Its lose or go home or win and keep going, said Kemp, the SEC Player of the Year. Its one of those games where you just have to take it one pitch at a time and do what we do all year.After opening the tournament with a 6-4 loss to third-seeded Illinois on Friday, the Jackets have bounced back with three straight wins, including a 5-1 win Saturday to eliminate East Tennessee State. They then sent Illinois packing earlier Sunday with a 6-3 victory.It was a great day for us, Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said of Sundays two wins to stay alive. This game (versus Vanderbilt) was really outstanding. You cant say enough good things about Josh (Heddinger).Leading 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Georgia Tech expanded the lead to 5-0 off a two-run home run by catcher Mitch Earnest that also drove in third baseman Matt Gonzalez. He had previously singled to drive in shortstop Mott Hyde, who had three of his teams 12 hits.I knew I had to come out and throw a lot of strikes to get ahead of people, said Heddinger, who pitched his first career complete game. His longest outing was pitching six innings last year against Southern Miss.This is an unreal feeling, Heddinger added. I got to save all our (pitchers) who havent thrown yet and can now throw (Monday). I just kept throwing strikes. Thats all I tried to do. I didnt think how long it was or how tired I was or what the score was.Vanderbilt starting pitcher Walker Buehler (4-3), a freshman, yielded 10 hits and five earned runs before being relieved in the seventh inning.Georgia Tech took an early 1-0 lead when leadoff hitter Kyle Wren led off the bottom of the first inning with a single up the middle, reached second base on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a single by designated hitter Zane Evans. Vanderbilt had a chance to strike in the first inning when Kemp singled, stole second and reached third on a fly-out with one just before being stranded there.The Yellow Jackets pushed the lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning. Center fielder Brandon Thomas led off the inning with an infield single, raced to third base on a double by Hyde, and then scored on a ground out by right fielder Daniel Spingola.The Commodores averted disaster in the bottom of the fifth inning when Wren singled and second baseman Thomas Smith walked. But Buehler struck out No. 3 hitter Evans and No. 4 hitter Brandon Thomas to shut the door and preserve a 2-0 deficit.The winning team will learn after Mondays game where and when the Super Regional series will start either Friday or Saturday. Playing host to its own regional as the top seed, Louisville (49-12) advanced to its third Super Regional and first since 2009 with a 12-3 win Sunday over Oklahoma State.Its not another game because it is a finalization for both teams, Corbin said of Mondays regional title game.