GAME 6: A grand triumph for Cumberlands

May 26—Nobody in the NAIA or any division in the NCAA has more home runs this year than Cumberlands slugger Charlie Muniz's 35.

On Saturday in Game 6 of the NAIA World Series, the junior catcher hit the biggest one of his career.

With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Muniz sent a towering grand slam into the left-field bleachers for a 6-4 Cumberlands' lead against William Carey — a score that would hold until the final out in front of 1,010 baseball fans at Harris Field.

The slam helped seal the first victory in Series history for the third-seeded Patriots (52-7) and sent the sixth-seeded Crusaders (37-16) home early.

"What can I say, it's just a really tough moment over there but I just tried to keep myself calm and just take the pitch that I can hit and help the team win," Muniz said. "I don't try to hit home runs, it just (went) out. It's just a special moment in my life."

Monkey off the back for one of Series' most dangerous offenses

After going 0-2 in its first ever World Series last year and falling to Tennessee Wesleyan in the first round Friday, Cumberlands was looking like it might be headed for another early exit.

Instead, the Patriots get to continue a historic season that already features the most victories in program history.

"For us to be able to get a win is a big step," Cumberlands coach Brad Shelton said. "I think it takes some of the pressure off our guys, and maybe they can relax now and maybe make a run in it."

Mighty Muniz

Before Muniz's big hit, William Carey went ahead 4-2 on a three-run blast by Braydon Coffey in the top of the sixth for its first lead of the game. It was the first home run of the season for Coffey and a timely one at that.

The Crusaders almost tacked on one run more if it weren't for a rocket throw by Cumberlands right fielder Trent Pokes to the catcher, Muniz, to tag out William Carey's Rigoberto Hernandez at home plate for the third out.

Then, Cumberlands slowly loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch and a pair of walks, bringing Muniz to the plate with William Carey's new pitcher, Preston Ratliff, having no choice but to throw to one of the most dangerous hitters in the NAIA.

Moments later, Muniz's grand slam ball was in the hands of a fan beyond the left-field wall and the junior was stomping on home plate having just scored four runs on one swift swing.

"I thought the table-setters ahead of Charlie did a nice job grinding out at-bats, drawing a couple walks and getting runners on for him to have a chance to drive them in," Shelton said. "They can't walk him when the bases are loaded; they had to pitch to him and he got one just deep enough to get out of here."

Muniz — who already owns a plethora of Cumberlands batting records including single-season home runs and RBI (100) — is quickly approaching the NAIA home runs record, too.

Muniz needs just three more to tie the NAIA record of 38 set by Lewis-Clark State's Beau Mills in 2007.

Cumberlands' Avila shines on mound

Despite allowing Coffey's big blast in the sixth, Cumberlands starting pitcher Cesar Avila returned to pitch the seventh inning.

He quickly ended the frame in just four batters and earned his 10th strikeout in the process. That return to the mound in the seventh improved Avila to 13-0 on the season and bumped his strikeout total to 124 — both program records for Cumberlands.

"He had a lot of family here to see him that hadn't seen him pitch this year and we wanted to give him a chance to finish a strong outing," Shelton said. "We believe in him because he's our conference pitcher of the year, he's the best we've ever had, so we had a lot of confidence in him."

Up next

Cumberlands will face top-seeded Southeastern at 8:35 a.m. Monday, meaning one of the tournament's top-three seeds is guaranteed to be eliminated.

"I feel like we have a deep pitching staff and this team is built to win tournaments," Shelton said. "To get to next week is huge for us. Now we can regroup and get a light practice in and be ready to compete next week."

NAIA single-season home runs leaders

Beau Mills, LCSC, in 2007 — 38

Brent Weaver, Oklahoma City, in 2009 — 37

Mike Meggers, Mary Hardin-Baylor, in 1992 — 36

Charlie Muniz, Cumberlands, in 2024 — 35*

*Not the only player to hit 35 home runs.


ab h r bi ab h r bi

Stinson lf/3b 5 0 0 0 Thompson lf 3 2 0 0

Thomas ss 5 0 1 0 Muniz c 5 1 2 4

Lycette 1b 4 1 1 0 Flynn pr 0 1 0 0

Ratliff dh/rf 4 2 2 1 St.Claire cf 4 0 2 0

Hendon rf/lf 2 0 0 0 Harper 1b 4 0 2 2

Coffey c 3 1 1 3 Rittenhouse dh 4 0 0 0

Laird 3b 3 0 0 0 Shelton ph 1 0 0 0

Little ph 1 0 0 0 Gonzalez ss 4 0 0 0

Hernandez 2b 4 0 2 0 Snapp 2b 3 0 1 0

Williams cf 3 0 2 0 Prokes rf 2 1 0 0

Petrey 3b 3 1 1 0

Totals 34 4 9 4 Totals 33 6 8 6

William Carey 000 103 000—4 9 1

Cumberlands 001 014 00x—6 8 1

William Carey ip h r er bb so

Herrera (L,6-2) 5.1 6 5 5 3 1

Ratliff 2 2 1 1 2 3

Snyder 0.2 0 0 0 0 1

Cumberlands ip h r er bb so

Avila (W,13-0) 7 9 4 4 1 10

Plummer 1 0 0 0 0 1

Korbacher (S,12) 1 0 0 0 0 2

Attendance — 1,010.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2277, or on Twitter @StephanSports.


Cumberlands 7

William Carey 4


Catcher Charlie Muniz hammered a grand slam in the sixth that not only put the Patriots ahead for good but extended his NAIA-leading home run total to 35. Cumberlands starting pitcher Cesar Avila (of Livingston, Calif.) fanned 10 batters and improved to 13-0 on the season in front of a large gathering of family who made the trek to Lewiston to watch him play, many for the first time this season. First baseman Max Harper added a pair of hits and two RBI to bring his total to four RBI for the Series.


"We've been one of the most prolific offenses in the country this year and I think we've been pressing a little bit at the plate, trying to do too much. I think that (victory) will at least allow our guys to take a deep breath and understand they deserve to be here and they're good enough to compete in this tournament." — Cumberlands coach Brad Shelton.