'Still in the game:' Airport High plays for Upper State Championship May 9

WEST COLUMBIA, SC -- So what’s the secret to Airport High School’s success on the baseball diamond this tournament season?


If you ask Coach Tim Perry, it’s confidence.


That means even when the team gets behind -- as was the case twice during recent playoff games against Belton-Honea Path  -- they kept believing.


“We fell behind to BHP twice in the playoffs and battled back both times, because we had done the same thing several times throughout the season,” Perry said Monday. “They are just a very mature group and have a great deal of confidence that as long as they have one out left, they are still in the game.”


Airport will bring that confidence to Wednesday’s Upper State Championship game, where the Lexington Two school will host either Greenville or South Aiken, with first pitch at 5 p.m.


So far this tournament season, the Eagles have defeated Westwood 3-0, Belton-Honea Path 3-2 and 8-3, Wren 8-0 and most recently South Aiken 12-1. The team’s only loss was to Belton-Honea Path 5-6.


Perry said his team has “pitched extremely well, this round especially, and played exceptional defense.”


“I told our guys before this round that a big key was going to be winning the free bases game and cutting down on our strikeouts, to force our opponent to record 21 outs,” he said. “We have done an incredible job in both areas. We've only struck out six times, while we have struck out our opponents eight times. We have also only walked six opposing hitters while we have walked 11 times offensively. Those are little things that often go unnoticed but are a huge part of our success.”


That kind of play will be key as the team heads into Wednesday’s matchup. Winning the championship title would secure a trip to state.

“We need to continue to pitch and play defense, avoid free bases defensively,” Perry said. “Offensively we need to continue to have really good at bats, run the bases aggressively but mistake-free, and keep putting the ball in play with two strikes.”


As the road to the title gets tougher, Perry is confident his team has what it takes to go all the way.


“We take a lot of pride in handling adversity and not getting too high or too low,” he said.  “We just need to continue being steady at being steady.