The Yellow Jackets (40-19) won after the Atlanta medical examiner issued a report earlier in the day showing pitcher Michael Hutts died from an accidental heroin overdose last month.
After Hutts' body was found April 11, the Yellow Jackets were quickly shaken by reports that he may have been using heroin. The medical examiner already had determined he died of an accidental overdose, and additional testing confirmed traces of the illicit drug.
"We've already gotten through it as good as any team can and tried to put it behind us," coach Danny Hall said. "I didn't think it would be a distraction."
Georgia Tech advanced to the winner's bracket for a game against surprising Lipscomb on Saturday. So much for an immediate rematch with state rival Georgia, which lost to the Bisons 10-7 in the regional opener.
The Bulldogs will face Louisville in an elimination game Saturday.
"There's no guarantees after that first game who you will play," Hall said. "It's win and move on. We've got Lipscomb tomorrow. That's all we're worried about."
The Big East champion Cardinals came into the NCAAs on quite a roll, having won 25 of 31 games, but their season is one loss from being done. They were charged with two errors and might have deserved another, and Georgia Tech benefited with a pair of unearned runs.
"I'm not going to lie -- this is very disappointing," coach Dan McDonnell said. "Not to take anything away from Georgia Tech, but we didn't play very well. They capitalized on every mistake we made."
Blanked through the first five innings by David Duncan, the Cardinals struck suddenly in the sixth. With one on, McClanahan homered over the left-field wall on a 1-2 pitch to tie the game at 2. Chris Dominguez went back-to-back for his 21st of the season, driving another 1-2 pitch for an even longer homer to give Louisville its first lead.
It would be short-lived. Georgia Tech went back ahead for good in the bottom half with a pair of runs.
Tony Plagman was hit by a pitch, Haniger singled and Patrick Long walked to load the bases with one out. Thomas Royse came on replace starter Justin Marks and nearly got out of the mess. Pinch-hitter Thomas Nichols lined out to third, and Blackmon followed with a slow infield grounder toward second.
McClanahan bobbled the ball in his haste to field it, then made a horrible throw that skipped by first baseman Andrew Clark. The tying and go-ahead runs scored on the play, which was scored a hit and an error.
McClanahan was in the middle of another botched play in the eighth. He drifted back on a towering pop-up by Luke Murton, but the ball fell between the second baseman and right fielder Stewart Ijames while an insurance run trotted home for the Yellow Jackets.
Ijames got the error, but McClanahan clearly felt it was his play.
"I've been hitting the ball really well," he said. "But looking back, I won't even remember that. All I'll remember is the two errors. I was too hesitant on the ball."
The Yellow Jackets stretched out their lead in the seventh against Royse. After Plagman's run-scoring single, Haniger hit a long two-run homer into the trees beyond the center-field wall to make it 7-3.
"I knew I got all of it," Haniger said.
Georgia Tech manufactured a run in the first. Blackmon led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and came home on Murton's sacrifice fly.
Blackmon was in the middle of things again in the second as the Yellow Jackets pushed across another run after two outs. Haniger and Long hit back-to-back singles, and Chris House walked to load the bases. Blackmon singled sharply to right, driving in a run, but Ijames easily threw out Long at the plate to end the inning.
McClanahan led off the eighth with his 12th homer of the year, but Brad Rulon got the final two outs in the ninth for his sixth save.
Andrew Robinson (4-2) earned the win with 2 2-3 innings of relief, giving up a couple of runs. Duncan went 5 2-3 innings and allowed three runs on eight hits.
Marks (9-2) surrendered six hits, walked four and gave up four runs (three earned) in 5 1-3 innings.
"I knew I had to throw my 'A' game," he said. "I didn't do that. I felt like I let my team down."