UF rattles FAMU in ‘feel-good' win

Whenever the twang of country singer Colt Ford bellows through McKethan Stadium, Cody Dent is prepping to pace the plate. For his final season, Dent walks up to Ford's tune "Answer To No One." Monday night in UF's 22-1 victory over FAMU, Dent answered in a way he never had before at Florida. The senior shortstop cranked his first home run ever in his 175th game as a Gator.

By the fourth inning, the Gators (26-23) were already grasping a comfortable 9-1 lead over the Rattlers (7-42). Florida was one out deep and Cory Reid was perched on first after FAMU's Kelvin Singletary pegged the UF right fielder. On an 0-0 count, Dent smoked a two-run bomb off the scoreboard to up UF's lead to 11-1.

"Seeing all my teammates — they really made it special," Dent said. "They just greeted me out front. They were all excited for me. That was big."

Teammate and Monday's starting pitcher Justin Shafer said when he first saw Dent's hit soar, he almost belted, "Get out!"

"But he got a hold of that ball — that ball was crushed," Shafer said.

The sophomore had an impressive night of his own, pitching his way to a career-long six innings completed with another career-high of eight strikeouts before freshman Tucker Simpson came out of the bullpen.

But it didn't stop there.

The victory clinched over Florida A&M paved the way for a slew of other firsts for Florida's lineup.

While freshman Christian Dicks knocked in the first home run of his inaugural season, junior Todd Haskel entered play for the first time of his college career. The Palm Harbor, Fla., native is listed as a catcher on the UF roster and Monday night, he entered the contest in the sixth inning to pinch-hit for Shafer.

On an 0-1 count, Haskel pulled a single through the left side off FAMU right-hander Jordan Montague. When he tapped first base, Haskel looked towards his teammates and flashed a smile.

"I just looked in the dugout and everyone was smiling," Haskel said. "All you can do is smile back and just know it's really nice to be a part of this team."

Haskel led off Florida in the eighth with a single up the middle, finishing his first game 2-for-2 complete with two runs.

When Haskel came out to speak post-game, he was in for another surprise.

"Everything was coming together today – it seemed like nothing could go wrong," Haskel said just before his teammates gave him a face full of shaving cream.

"TODDY!" His teammates cheered behind him.

Coach Kevin O'Sullivan said it was great to get a bunch of his players in Monday's matchup and the victory was what the Gators needed after getting swept at LSU over the weekend.

"It was kind of a feel-good night for everybody," O'Sullivan said. "It was something that was probably needed."

Florida's next contest is Tuesday at 7 p.m. versus Florida Atlantic at McKethan Stadium. O'Sullivan said he is looking to LHP Bobby Poyner for the start.

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