High school baseball: Airport 6, Manning 0

Airport, Talton cruise

Special to The StateApril 29, 2013 

Airport’s remarkable turnaround season continued on Monday in the Class 3A state baseball playoffs.

The third-ranked Eagles, who won four games last season in Tim Perry’s first season in charge, ran their record to 22-3 with a 6-0 win over visiting Manning. The verdict sends Airport on to the District 5 championship round on Friday.

Airport would have to lose two games at home on Friday to fail to advance to the Lower State championship tournament for the first time since 2005.

“We just did a lot of things well tonight, and that was pleasing,” said Perry. “We had good at-bats, put the ball in play and found ways to score runs. We played good defense and got good pitching again. That’s been the formula all season.”

Senior right-hander Caleb Talton tossed a four-hit shutout to improve to 6-0 with an 0.71 ERA.

“Caleb was a little sluggish early, left a lot of pitches up, but he really settled in, figured some things out and grinded out a complete game for us without having his best stuff,” said Perry.

The Eagles made the most of five hits against two Monarchs pitchers. Three of the safeties were run-scoring hits with two outs. Taylor Key’s single in the first inning drove in leadoff hitter Casey Parker, who reached base on an error. Josh Tucker and Forrest Arnold delivered clutch, two-run singles in the third and fifth innings.

“We certainly didn’t hit it around a lot, but we made the ones we had count,” said Perry. “Those two-out, run-scoring hits are hard to get.”

The Eagles augmented the five hits by drawing seven walks and stealing four bases. The last Airport run came in the fifth from a double steal of home and second base, respectively, by Austin Hawley and Zach Feaster.

Manning (17-4), which shared the Region 6 championship with Hartsville, had plenty of chances, but couldn’t solve Talton.

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