Navs’ Cody Dent (2 RBI) leads Florida to SEC title

Courtesy of GatorZone.com

Navigators infielder Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, FL.) went 1-for-2 with a game-high two RBI in the Gators’ 5-0 win over No. 4 Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon in the 2011 Southeast Conference title game. The SEC championship was the first in 20 years for the No. 3 Gators.

Dent, the son of three-time MLB All-Star Bucky Dent, had 14 RBI and 14 runs scored in 21 games for the Navigators last season. The sophomore will also return this summer for a second stint with the Navs, who begin their season June 8 at Holyoke. The team’s home opener will take place Saturday, June 11 at Fraser Field against Laconia (6:15 p.m.).

In the second inning of Florida’s SEC title victory, Dent laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to plate a run and take a 1-0 lead as he successfully executed a safety squeeze. He also reached first and took second on the play after a throwing error. The third baseman later singled to lead off the seventh and worked a bases load walk for an RBI in the eighth.

Although Dent has appeared in 37 games on the year for the Gators, he has started only 11. Nonetheless, he has worked his way into the regular lineup of late, having started at third base and hit out of the ninth spot in each of the last seven games. Dent has a .400 on-base percentage during that stretch and Florida is 5-2 over that span.

As a result of the number of premier caliber players in Florida’s program, Dent had yet to establish an everyday role prior to his recent stretch. Florida shortstop and fellow sophomore Nolan Fontana, for example, is hitting .308 with 41 RBI in 60 games for the Gators. Fontana will play for the Team USA collegiate national team this summer, which is set to play against the Navs on Sunday, June 26 (6:15 p.m.) at Fraser Field.

The SEC title was not the only good news the Gators received on Sunday, as Florida’s McKethan Stadium at Perry Field was selected as one of the 16 regional hosts for the 2011 NCAA Baseball Championship. As a result, the Gators will begin NCAA Regional play at home on Friday.

Clemson was also selected as a regional host. Freshmen Mike Dunster, Jon McGibbon, and Kevin Pohle of the Tigers will all join the Navigators after the completion of the postseason. Oklahoma, while not a host, is also likely to receive a bid this afternoon during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show at 12:30 p.m. The Sooners’ Kindle Ladd and and Drew Dahlberg will both play for North Shore this summer as well.

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