Howard won 13 more games than Blanchard in the regular season, but in the opening round of the playoffs it was the Bees that were buzzing.
Last-place Blanchard completed a two-game sweep of last season’s runner-up squad with a 4-2 triumph on Tuesday. The seventh-seeded Bees will face top-seeded Philipsburg on Sunday in the second round.
Howard led 2-1 heading into the fifth thanks to Tyler Womer’s two-run single in the third. After two outs in the fifth, Ryan Hill singled, moved to second on Mike Vonada’s walk and scored on Josh Bechdel’s single. Brian Pelka then walked the next three batters with Matt McGhee and Ryan Watkins drawing bases-loaded passes.
Cayden Stover pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win. Hill and Vonada had two singles apiece.