Minutes after a wild dogpile in the middle of Oxford-University Stadium, Virginia pitcher Robert Poutier limped into the postgame press conference with a rapidly swelling left eye and a grin on his face that stretched from ear to ear.
"I think I've got a few cracked ribs, a black eye and a broken elbow," said Poutier, a fifth-year senior out of Grafton High, who was joking about the ribs and the elbow. "But the pain is well worth it."
And that's because Virginia is going to the first College World Series in program history. The Cavaliers beat Mississippi 5-1 on Sunday afternoon to take the final game of a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional, rallying for two victories after losing Friday's opener in extra innings.
Virginia (48-13-1), which broke the school wins record, will play LSU at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., with the time and date to be announced tonight. Also in the Cavaliers' half of the bracket are Cal State Fullerton and Arkansas.
Ole Miss (44-20) had its season end in the Super Regionals for the fourth time in five seasons.
"I don't know what to say," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "It's just an unbelievable accomplishment by a group of young men that stayed together the whole year."
Virginia won mainly because of another gritty pitching effort. First it was Poutier, who started for only the fifth time this season and gave up one run over 2 2/3 innings while striking out four.
Then it was Tyler Wilson (9-3), Matt Packer and Kevin Arico, who combined to throw 6 1/3 scoreless innings despite all having thrown earlier in the weekend. Packer was the biggest workhorse, pitching all three days.
"Being tired isn't really an option at this point in the year," Packer said. "It's not even a word we use."
On offense, the Cavaliers were far from a machine, but for the second day in a row they did just enough to get the win.
With the game tied at 1, Virginia broke things open in the fifth inning, using three hits and two stolen bases to piece together three runs for a 4-1 lead. Two Ole Miss errors helped the cause. Franco Valdes, Tyler Cannon and Phil Gosselin all drove home runs in the rally.
The two stolen bases in the fifth were a common theme for the weekend, as the Cavaliers ran wild. U.Va. was 6-for-6 stealing bases Sunday and stole 12 over the entire weekend.
"We saw some things, especially with their left-handers," Gosselin said. "It really helped us."
On the other side of the field, Ole Miss couldn't seem to do anything right. The Rebels got a decent start from Nathan Baker (4-3), who gave up four runs, but only two earned, over five innings.
But every attempt to get runs ended in failure, even when the ball was hit hard. In the seventh inning, the Rebels had a chance to jump back in the game when leadoff hitter Matt Snyder coaxed a walk. Then Matt Smith, the cleanup hitter, laced a line drive down the first-base line.
It would normally have been a double, but because Snyder was being held on first, Virginia's Danny Hultzen was right there to snag the line drive and step on first for the double play. O'Connor admitted luck played a part.
"Those are the kinds of things that have to happen to get to Omaha," O'Connor said.
"Fortunately for us, they went our way."
The trip to Omaha ends years of frustration for Virginia, which has risen into a power in the ACC. But for years, the Cavaliers' bid for the College World Series was stopped in regional play.
But now, they've broken through, even with an extremely young team that was lightly regarded before the season. O'Connor recalled the advice given to him after he was particularly frustrated one year after a regional loss.
"Omaha will happen when you least expect it," he said.
VIRGINIA 5, MISSISSIPPPI 1 Mississippi
100000000 — 1 7 3
00013001x — 5 9 2
Baker, McKean (6), Morgan (7) and Henson; Poutier, Wilson (3), Packer (7), Arico (9) and Valdes. W — Wilson, 9-3. L — Baker, 4-3.
Joining the Omaha party Teams advancing to the College World Series: Arkansas (39-22), Cal State Fullerton (47-14), LSU (51-16), North Carolina (47-16) , Southern Miss (40-24) and Virginia(48-13-1).Teams vying for spots Texas and TCU are tied at 1 with the deciding game today. Arizona State led Clemson 1-0 entering Sunday night's gameCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times