Published Tuesday, June 19, 2012 AT 2:57 PM / Updated at 2:57 PM
Teammate helps FSU shortstop bounce back
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Four days ago,¬†Florida State shortstop Justin Gonzalez had a performance that’s usually reserved for nightmares.

The Seminoles lost 4-3 in extra innings to Arizona to open the College World Series. That alone is gut-wrenching enough. But Gonzalez had it worst of anyone.

He committed two errors (one in the third inning and another in the fifth), both leading to Arizona runs. He did have two singles — but he got picked off at first after a one-out hit in the 11th. He also struck out twice.

How did Gonzalez take it? Teammate and friend Devon Travis didn’t need to ask.

“Everybody who’s played the game of baseball has had games like that,” Travis said. “It’s tough. You go back to the hotel, shower, look in the mirror and say, ‘Dang, I sucked today.’”

And you try to move on, which is often quite difficult. Travis knows that. So during the day after that loss to Arizona, Travis went out of his way to help Gonzalez concentrate on something other than baseball.

Travis, Gonzalez and their families — about nine total people — crammed into a mini van and drove around Omaha. Passed by Rosenblatt, and the zoo. Toured a couple neighborhoods. They grabbed some steak at Brother Sebastian’s. And chilled in the hotel lobby playing cards (it was about time Gonzalez learned how to play Spades).

“Me and Justin spent about every minute of the day together,” Travis said.

And the eventual result?

Gonzalez delivers in an elimination game against Stony Brook Sunday, hitting a decisive three-run homer to keep Florida State alive for at least one more day.

“That Friday game was a test of my faith, I feel like,” Gonzalez said. “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 (Sunday) and able to do that.”

Gonzalez and the Seminoles play UCLA at 7 p.m.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.