Brian Pelka tossed an eight-hitter as Howard knocked off defending Centre County Baseball League champion Philipsburg 3-1 on Sunday, squaring their best-of-five semifinal series at 1-1.
Pelka, a league veteran with more than 90 career wins, kept the Pirates off balance with his array of breaking pitches. He struck out two, walked none and was backed by errorless defense.
Philipsburg took the lead with a run in the first. Matt Curtis led off with a single and came around to score as John Shaffer and AJ Robinson hit back-to-back two-out singles.
The Hawks got even in the bottom of the fourth. Tyler Womer was hit by a pitch, moved into scoring position on a single by Bones Fisher and scored on Rusty Gates’ RBI double to left.
Howard took the lead for good an inning later. Ray Smith and Womer reached on singles and raced around to score on Travis Price’s two-run double down the righ-field line.
Fisher had two singles and was the game’s lone multiple hitter. Josh Potter allowed seven hits for Philipsburg.
Game 3 is at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Philipsburg High School.