Notebook: Bottom of order comes up big

Omaha, Neb.- The Florida Gators advance to the championship series of the 2011 College World Series with a 6-4 victory over Vanderbilt. Look inside for news and notes from the game.

Florida head baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan reminds everyone that baseball is a team game when asked about how the bottom of his Gators' order came up big in Friday afternoon's win over Vanderbilt.

That's true. But the Gators' 6 through 9 hitters went above and beyond their calling in the 6-4 victory.

Josh Adams, Tyler Thompson, Daniel Pigott and Cody Dent combined for seven of the Gators 13 hits and scored all of their runs.

"The offense can't just fall on Preston (Tucker) or Mike Zunino," O'Sullivan said. "We need to get production from everybody. Everybody's role may be different."

Friday afternoon, their role was to find a way to get on base and then score on hits from Nolan Fontana and Tucker. Dent also walked twice and Adams once.

"My role has just been if I'm leading off the inning, just try to get on base," Dent said. "And if there are people on, move them over, get them in, just trying to have quality at bats."

That production has been a part of what has made Florida successful all season long. And it's going to have to continue to be there for them to win a championship, according to O'Sullivan.

"It's awfully good to get the production from the bottom like we have been," he said. "But this isn't new. We've been getting production from those guys all year long.

Best season ever for Vandy

The sting from Vanderbilt's season-ending loss to Florida was still there. But through the hurt, the Commodores were at least able to reflect on what was the best baseball season in Vandy history.

"We put together a great season. Nothing to be ashamed of," losing pitcher Sonny Gray said. "We battled throughout the year and, unfortunately, we came up short two games here to Florida."

That was a common theme for the Commodores. Five of their 12 losses this season came against Florida.

The Commodores' 54 wins ranks second nationally and they became the first Vanderbilt team in school history to make the College World Series.

"Knowing how hard we work and knowing we do the things the right way and we practice hard and we never gave up, and we gave it everything we had this whole year, and I'm proud of our 54 wins," Jason Esposito said. "And I'm proud of all the younger guys who stepped up. I'm just proud to play for Vanderbilt."

"Once we get maybe back to Nashville," added Aaron Westlake, "regroup as a team, we'll look over this year and we're going to be proud of each other.

"I love all these guys, and it's making memories. This is history. You'll never forget about it. So once we get back, we'll look back and see how well this season we did."

Gators not satisfied

The Florida Gators may be about to play for a baseball national championship for just the second time in school history.

But the loud message from the postgame press conference following Friday's win to send them there was that the Gators are far from satisfied.

"This is a long grind. And this team from day one, its goal was to set out to play for the national championship," O'Sullivan said. "That doesn't always come in the end, doesn't always work out that way. But they've been focused. And we're looking forward to it.

The Gators will face either South Carolina or Virginia with game-one of the championship series starting Monday night at 7 ET.

"We got either a tremendous team with South Carolina or Virginia to play," Tucker said. "So we all share a common goal, which is to win it, not just to be here. We're happy we're in the Finals, but we're going to be just as disappointed as if we went 0-2 if we lose the series."

By way of their 3-0 record, the Gators have two full days off. They'll practice Saturday and Sunday in preparation for Monday's first game.

"We know there's a long way to go on this thing," O'Sullivan said. "But you have to get there. So we're excited for playing for the national championship, and but we're going to be business as usual the next couple of days."

Extra bases

Florida now has a school-record 53 wins this season to extend their own school record. ... Florida advances to the MCWS Championship Finals for the second time in school history and the first since 2005. ... Florida entered today's game hitting just .206 in its first two contests (13-for-20) before equaling that hit total against Vanderbilt on Friday. ... With two RBI today, Preston Tucker has 19 RBI in the NCAA Tournament, easily the most of any player. Chad Bunting (Cal) and Joey DeMichele (Arizona State) are tied for second in the 2011 NCAA Tournament with 12 RBI apiece. He also leads all CWS players with six RBI. ... Florida starters have not allowed more than three earned runs in its last 15 contests dating back to the final regular-season game against Kentucky on May 21. ... Bryson Smith extended his hit streak to 13 games and is hitting .481 (26-for-54) in that stretch. ... Vanderbilt was looking to become the eighth team to win a CWS title in its first appearance, and would be the first since Minnesota in 1956. The other teams to win an CWS title in their first appearance in Omaha are California (1947), Southern California (1948); Texas (1949); Oklahoma (1951); Holy Cross (1952) and Michigan (1953). The last first-time qualifier to play for a national title is Georgia Tech in 1994.

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