Dent, Gators advance to CWS Final

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Navigators infielder and Florida Gators third baseman Cody Dent reached base four times in Florida’s 6-4 win over Vanderbilt on Friday, going 2-for-2 with a triple, two runs scored, and a pair of walks. The win eliminated Vandy and propels the Gators (53-17) into the College World Series Final where they will play for baseball’s national title against defending-champion South Carolina (53-14), who won a 3-2 walk-off in 13 innings on Friday night. The CWS Final is a best two-of-three series to be played Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (if necessary).

Dent, the son of former New York Yankee and former three-time All-Star Bucky Dent, could be recognized in the collegiate baseball world as a slick-fielding, light-hitting utilityman in his time with the Gators since arriving in Gainesville last spring as a freshman. But since he was inserted into the starting lineup 15 games ago on May 20, the Gators have gone 12-3 (including 7-1 in tournament play) and are now in position to win their first national title in school history. It marks the first time since 2005 that Florida has reached the CWS Final and just the second time in program history to receive a national championship series berth.

Over his current 15-game stretch as the starting third baseman for the nation’s hottest team, Dent has hit .302 (13-for-43) with eight runs and five RBI. He also has a .474 on-base percentage during that span as a result of 14 walks, and he has has reached base safely in 10 of his last 11 games. His batting average has risen .110 points (from .091 to .211) since being inserted into the starting lineup in late May.

Dent netted his first collegiate career extra-base hit on June 18, as he broke a 3-3 tie with a fourth-inning RBI double against Texas Longhorns’ starter Taylor Jungmann. Jungmann was the No. 12 overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

On Friday, Dent tripled to lead off the third inning and then scored on a groundout to tie the game at 1-1. Then in the fourth, Dent worked a two-out, full-count walk to load the bases and keep the inning alive, which set the stage for shortstop Nolan Fontana, who singled in a pair to take a 3-1 lead.

Dent walked again in the sixth and later dropped down a bunt single in the eighth before scoring on a wild pitch.

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