By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cumberland (Tenn.) earns its first No. 1 ranking since the 2011 Preseason Poll (Nov. 16, 2010), as the Bulldogs top the 2014 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Wednesday. The Bulldogs, who jumped a poll-high 22 places this edition, were the unanimous selection, collecting all 20 first-place votes and 560 total points.
Cumberland won its third title with a 3-0 win against Lewis-Clark State in the finale of the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. The Bulldogs (49-20) are the only No. 10 seed to ever win the championship since the current seeding format was established in 2003. Additionally, Cumberland landed five individuals on the All-Tournament Team, highlighted by World Series Most Valuable Player Sam Lind. Lind ended the event with a .542 (13-for-24) batting average that included three doubles, two home runs, six runs scored and 12 RBIs.
National runner-up Lewis-Clark State checks in at No. 2 for the third-straight poll with 542 points. The Warriors, who own an NAIA record 16 World Series titles, appeared in the title game for the second-straight year. Lewis-Clark State ended the 2014 campaign with a 47-9 record.
Also holding its spot for another week is No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan. The Eagles, who accrued 523 points in the postseason edition, fell one game short of playing for the banner in their first-ever World Series appearance. They lost to Lewis-Clark State, 9-5, in game No. 18. Despite the loss, Oklahoma Wesleyan ended the year with a program record 58 wins and had its first-ever individual win the NAIA National Player of the Year award in senior outfielder Jose Ruiz.
No. 4 Oklahoma Baptist and No. 5 Faulkner (Ala.) round out the remainder of the top five with 507 and 480 points, respectively. The Bison, who were eliminated from the World Series by Oklahoma Wesleyan, had spent the five previous polls at No. 1.
Other notable positive movement within the poll came from No. 6 Tabor (Kan.), No. 14 Bellevue (Neb.) and No. 17 Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio). All three squads jumped four places from the final regular-season edition. The Bluejays made program history with their first-ever World Series appearance, while Bellevue and Mount Vernon Nazarene finished runner-up in their respective National Championship Opening Round bracket.
No. 18 Belhaven (Miss.) and No. 24 (tied) British Columbia leap in as newcomers. Both clubs were ranked previously this season.
Fifteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four programs from the Southern States Athletic Conference – Faulkner, No. 8 Southern Poly (Ga.), Belhaven and No. 23 Brewton-Parker (Ga.).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.
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Notes (all information dates back to 2000): Cumberland is making its first appearance at No. 1 since Nov. 16, 2010 and fifth all-time … The Bulldogs are the third team to top the polls this season, joining Faulkner (Ala.) and Oklahoma Baptist … Oklahoma Baptist owned the top-spot for five-straight polls prior to Cumberland … Ten different teams have held the No. 1 ranking since 2000 … No. 2 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) leads all programs with 53 top mentions, while Oklahoma City is second with 31 … Eight other teams have been ranked No. 1 in at least two polls: former member Lubbock Christian (Texas) (13), Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (11), LSU Shreveport (La.) (6), Lee (6), Faulkner (5), Oklahoma Baptist (5), Cumberland (Tenn.) (5) and Tennessee Wesleyan (2) … Lewis-Clark State has been ranked in a NAIA-best 136-straight polls … The next closest active streak is owned by Embry-Riddle, which has received Top 25 mentions in 74-straight … No. 7 Georgia Gwinnett, which opened the year unranked, received its first-ever Top 25 appearance on March 25 … No. 17 Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) made its first appearance since the 2005 Preseason Poll – a string of 87-straight editions – on April 8 … No. 22 Davenport (Mich.) earned its first ranking in program history in the final regular season poll … Forty-five teams have been ranked in 2014 … The Southern States Athletic Conference lead all leagues with four ranked teams.2014 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll (June 4)
|RANK||LAST WEEK||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2014 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||23||Cumberland (Tenn.) (20)||49-20||560|
|2||2||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||47-9||542|
|8||9||Southern Poly (Ga.)||46-19||439|
|10||8||San Diego Christian (Calif.)||42-20||405|
|12||11||LSU Shreveport (La.)||45-18||348|
|17||21||Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)||44-12||257|
|20||14||The Master’s (Calif.)||37-18||230|
Others receiving votes: Point Park (Pa.) 118; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 102; Vanguard (Calif.) 59; William Woods (Mo.) 53; Viterbo (Wis.) 36; Talladega (Ala.) 27; Bacone (Okla.) 27; Tennessee Wesleyan 25; Spring Arbor (Mich.) 22; Sterling (Kan.) 21; Westmont (Calif.) 21; Midland (Neb.) 19; Judson (Ill.) 15; Mayville State (N.D.) 8.