2018-03-09 / Sports

Eagles open season in style

Airport’s head coach Tim Perry talks with pitcher Justin Allen last season. Airport’s head coach Tim Perry talks with pitcher Justin Allen last season. During a weekend where five basketball teams came away with state championships on the hardwood, the Airport Eagles’ baseball team achieved two accomplishments on the diamond.

The first occurred Friday night, March 2, when a 7-6 win over Belton-Honea Path gave head coach Tim Perry his 100th win as Airport head coach.

“It’s a special milestone. To have my family there makes it special to share with them,” Perry said. “I also share it with my staff. They have as much to do with all 100 of those as I do.”

Perry enters his seventh at the helm of the Airport baseball team. While he is seeing the fruits of his hard work pay off, his tenure with the Eagles didn’t have the best start. His first team won only four games, and Perry’s methods were met with resistance.

After meeting with the players together and individually, there was more commitment to weight lifting and summer workouts. That commitment saw Airport’s win total soar in 2013, as the Eagles won a school-record 26 games and played the A.C. Flora Falcons for the 4A State Championship.

“The process was there,” Perry said. “It was about getting them to understand they were going to get out of it what they put into it. That was what changed the most, the willingness to make the sacrifices.”

While Airport came up a little short in the Flora series, it set the tone for what the future would hold for the baseball program.

Since the State Championship appearance, the Eagles have won 69 games, two more region championships, and a district championship.

One of the best years of Perry’s time at Airport was last year when the Eagles were picked to finish near the bottom of Region IV-4A. Airport not only won the region but reached the district finals pushing Eastside to a decisive final game before falling 11-6.

The momentum generated from last year’s team has continued as Airport won four games over the weekend at the 2018 Nature Chem Preseason Invitational at Lexington and River Bluff High Schools to win the tournament.

The first game was the win over Belton-Honea Path, which helped Perry reach his milestone. Airport followed with a 4-2 win over Sumter and a 5-0 win over Riverside.

That set up an appearance in the championship game against the River Bluff Gators.

From the very first at bat, the Eagles grabbed the momentum. They scored four runs in the first inning, highlighted by a home run from Tyler Corbitt.

“It generated so much energy in our dugout, and we kept it going. We kept adding runs,” Perry said.

Sam LaFrage added a three-run home run in the second. It was more than enough offense for pitcher Parker Whittle, who gave up only three runs and six hits through four innings of action. Airport beat the Gators 10-3 to win the tournament.

While it’s very early in the season, the Nature Chem championship made it clear the Eagles are a force to be reckoned with once more in Class 4A baseball.

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