Florida State returned to top form by demolishing Stony Brook, the darling of Omaha, 12-2 on Sunday to stay alive in the College World Series.
Using timely hitting, the Seminoles put together a six-run third -- all with two outs -- and then poured it on late to easily eliminate the Seawolves.
With runners on the corners in the third, ACC Player of the Year James Ramsey doubled down the right field line, plating Sherman Johnson for the first run. Jayce Boyd then grounded to the shortstop, but instead of making the routine play for the third out, first baseman Kevin Courtney failed to block the low throw and allowed two more 'Noles to cross the plate.
After Stephen McGee drew a walk, Justin Gonzalez launched a no-doubt, three-run blast into the bullpen in left, making the statement that his down performance Friday wouldn't phase him in the slightest.
"That Friday game was a test of my faith, I feel like," said Gonzalez after the game. "And to be able to bounce back like that, it wasn't me out there. It was kind of a revelation that God gives us this platform and he tests us, and to be able to come out there and help my club the way I did just shows that I was blessed today and able to do that."
The home run was Gonzalez's ninth of 2012, but his defensive performance -- a strong throw from deep in the third-base hole in the fourth was especially impressive -- further highlighted his confidence level.
Devon Travis kept Gonzalez's spirits high during FSU's off day Saturday.
"I know what it's like," said Travis. "I know what it's like to be the bad guy, to make a couple of errors and have a game where you're not hitting the ball like you want to. And I just think, as best friends we are, you just gotta see through all that, and I tried to be that guy for him. And today, it was pretty incredible seeing him get that hit. When he was walking by me, I told him, ‘I told you so.' Because he's a great ballplayer. He does everything right. He works hard. He's always a big team guy. So it's pretty incredible for him."
Travis mimicked Gonzalez in the FSU fourth by ripping his eighth long ball of the season into the Stony Brook bullpen to extend the Seminole lead to eight.
All smiles during the postgame press conference, coach Mike Martin described the boost the two home runs provided.
"Tremendous lifts when you can get five runs with two swings of the bat," said Martin, "and that was a pleasant surprise because, of course, of the [windy] conditions. But if you ask either one of them, all they were trying to do was hit a line drive and their ability took over."
Freshman starter Mike Compton lived up to pitching coach Mike Bell's expectations by consistently forcing Stony Brook into groundouts with heavy pitches over six innings.
The win for Compton, his 12th, ties him with major leaguer Sean Gilmartin for the most as a freshman in Seminole history. His win total leads all freshmen nationally.
"Coach Bell stressed to me they're a team that likes to build off momentum," Compton said. "They like to string a few hits together, really get them going. So for me it was all about making sure I hit my spots, keeping the ball low, and especially with the offense that we had today. They were on fire, and I wanted to get them back in the dugout and hitting as soon as possible."
Compton's only blip came in the fifth. Ramsey misfired on a throw to second trying to catch the retreating Courtney, committing his first error this year and allowing Stony Brook to threaten with base runners on second and third. Pat Cantwell then scored Courtney with an RBI groundout to Travis -- an exchange the Seminoles gladly made with an eight-run lead. But then William Carmona added another with a rope single to right.
The Garnet and Gold responded with three consecutive doubles in the sixth for three additional runs. Seth Miller, who started the game in left, laced a two bagger down the right field line, but third base coach Mike Martin Jr. showed the stop sign to John Holland at third. Johnson followed with a low double off the right field wall to score Holland and Miller and soon came around himself when Travis stroked a double to the gap in right.
A trio of Brandon Johnson, Bryant Holtmann, and Mack Waugh combined to shut down the Seawolves from the seventh on to conclude a game that essentially ended after FSU's six-run third.
A rejuvenated 'Noles bunch awaits UCLA, which was shut out Sunday 4-0 by undefeated Arizona, in another elimination game Tuesday.
Gonzalez pointed out the importance, win or lose, of staying even keel through the emotional rollercoaster that is the College World Series.
"Coach [Martin] stressed all the time that the game of baseball, one day you're the hero, next day you're the villain," he said. "And we know in a series, Regional, Super Regional, College World Series, no matter what happens, we're not going to get too up or too down. We're just going to roll through it. Just having that leadership in Ramsey and having the chemistry we have on this team to pick each other up enables us to continue to roll through things, roll through punches. And everybody here knows what we want to do, we all want. Our goal was to win, and we just gotta continue to play hard. We're not focused on the outcome, but we're just going to go out and play as if it's our last game every day."
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
FSU pounds Stony Brook to stay alive
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