OXFORD — Virginia is headed to its first College World Series after beating Mississippi 5-1 on Sunday to win the super regional series.
Matt Packer, in his third appearance of the series, and three others combined for 10 strikeouts and allowed just seven hits as the Cavaliers (48-13-1) set the school record for wins in a season. Virginia improved to 5-1 since the NCAA tournament began and has done it with pitching, allowing just nine earned runs.
The Rebels (44-20) have lost four straight super regionals over the last five seasons.
The Cavaliers took advantage of three errors and stole six bases, while the Rebels stranded eight runners and were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position. Ole Miss had just one runner advance past second base after falling behind 1-0 in the first.
The Cavaliers’ earned-run average against Ole Miss was 2.33 and is now 1.50 overall since they won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last month. They gave up just 23 hits against the Rebels and struck out 26, setting a school record (567) for strikeouts in a season.
The Rebels continue to struggle in super regional play as they strive for their first College World Series appearance since 1972.
Ole Miss has advanced past a regional in four of the last five seasons and hosted three super regionals. But after taking 1-0 leads in all three home series, the Rebels finished each 0-2.
Errors did them in this year. One by second baseman Evan Button helped the Cavaliers rally to a 4-3 win Saturday to force Game 3, and another Sunday by shortstop Kevin Mort kept a three-run burst rolling in the fifth inning, putting the game out of reach.
Steven Proscia started that rally with a single, then stole second and scored on Franco Valdes’ single. Mort’s error on a hot but routine grounder from John Barr moved Valdes to third and he scored two batters later on Tyler Cannon’s sacrifice fly. Phil Gosselin then brought Barr home with a single to right.
Proscia had three hits, two stolen bases and an RBI, while John Hicks was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run.
Valdes finished 1 for 4, and had a hit and an RBI in each game.
Read all about it in Monday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.
The Associated Press/ Photos by Deste Lee