PENFIELD — Brandyn Sittinger didn’t necessarily mean to talk the talk.
Then again, the Keystone senior definitely meant to walk the walk, and the Wildcats have their third straight Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title to show for it.
Sittinger ignited a social media war of words when he light-heartedly poked fun at Buckeye losing its district semifinal game to Division II power Tallmadge last week. The Twitter comment — “Buckeye got knocked out of the playoffs! Hahaha” — was taken the “wrong way” by some of the Bucks, he said, but Sittinger had the last laugh with three no-hit innings and a clutch RBI triple Monday in a 10-1 Keystone victory.
“I didn’t think it meant that much,” Sittinger said. “I just said it because they’re our rivals. Of course we want them to go far, but we don’t want them to beat us out and go farther than us.
“I just tweeted that, and all of a sudden it blew up. They took it way out of proportion. I play with their catcher (Scotty Cloudy) on my summer team and he didn’t take it hard at all.”
While Sittinger downplayed the psychological aspects, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway with the way the Wildcats (21-8, 14-2) obliterated the scrappy Bucks (17-11, 12-3), who had to claw back into the division race for most of the season.
At the heart of it was the pitching of Sittinger, Caleb Schillace and Jake Twining, as all three were brilliant in what was essentially a tune-up for Thursday’s Division III regional semifinal with Youngstown Ursuline.
Sittinger allowed the lone run in the second when Dennis Dudgeon reached on an error, stole second and scored on a passed ball. Sittinger then gave way to Schillace, who eventually gave up the Wildcats’ no-hit bid on a Sam Kraus single in the fifth, and Twining, who pitched the seventh.
Sittinger struck out the side in the third inning. Schillace pulled the trick in the fifth, and Twining followed in the seventh as the threesome fanned 13 overall.
“We’ve had it together since the beginning of the year,” Schillace said. “We just knew we had to come out and pitch well because we knew we had to against them. They got lucky last time against ‘Sit’ — they stuck the bat out a couple times — but we knew we would be able to take it to them.”
The Keystone offense certainly was no slouch, either, with 13 hits and four multirun innings. Catcher Pierce Young was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, No. 9 hitter Marcus Gunter was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Sittinger and Schillace each added two hits.
The dagger came via Sittinger in the fourth. Buckeye’s Tyler Nichols (5-3) threw an outside curveball, but Sittinger went with it and drilled a line drive to right center. The triple scored Troy Piazza, and then Sittinger came around when second baseman Shane Miller mishandled the relay throw.
At that point, it was 6-1 and the Bucks’ were already defeated emotionally.
“That was a little jolt and we got on the merry-go-round and kept going with it,” Sittinger said. “It feels great. We came in here and started off strong. We got ahead of them and we knew we could beat them.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.