had always wanted to be anesthesiologist. That or a plastic surgeon.
Well, that was before last week when he got to examine the human brain.
"That was the coolest thing in the world," he said. "Now I want to be a brain surgeon."
McNitt isn't sweating his change of ambitions. The correct path will present itself.
The Stony Brook University (N.Y.) sophomore right-handed pitcher and the Seawolves' No. 2 starter is living proof of that.
How a Southern California kid who grew up wearing flip-flops and shorts ended up flinging a baseball on the North Shore of Long Island is sheer luck. How the Seawolves made it to the College World Series in Omaha (Neb.) is sheer storybook.
Multiply the story of McNitt times Stony Brook and you have sheer Hollywood. The Seawolves, a Division III school until 1995, take on UCLA in an opening-round game today at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
"I feel like it's the greatest feeling any person could feel right now," McNitt said by phone from Omaha Wednesday. "I'm living every kid's dream. How I made it here is beyond what anyone could imagine. It seems surreal."
McNitt's dream school coming out of Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
was to play at Pepperdine University, on a nearby Southern California beach in scenic Malibu.
If that didn't work out then, UC Irvine or Stanford were other schools on his radar. But at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, McNitt wasn't seen as a top prospect – even with a 9-0 record and 1.60 ERA as a senior on one of California's top-ranked teams.
"I'm kind of small and don't throw 90 mph-plus," McNitt said. "I understood (the lack of a firm offer). To a point."
So when Stony Brook came calling, McNitt jumped, right? Hardly.
"Didn't know a thing about it," McNitt said. "Didn't know where it was, what division, nothing."
But Bishop Amat pitching coach Chris Beck did. In the summer months, Beck had coached for years at the Cape Code League in Massachusetts. There he made a connection with Stony Brook pitching coach Mike Marron.
The two bonded and that started the coast-to-coast Amat to Stony Brook connection. Amat's No. 1 starter this season, Daniel Zamora
(9-3, 2.08 ERA), has signed to the New York school as has lefthander Kenny Ball
Those two signings wouldn't have occurred had McNitt not had such a positive experience and success on the mound.
Last season, McNitt was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, going 7-3 with a 2.03 ERA in 16 appearances. This year he was named first team All-America East and heads into Omaha with an 8-3 record, a 2.50 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 100 innings.
He picked Stony Brook, a public school that didn't earn Division I standing until 2000, based as much on education as baseball. The school's medical department – there is a medical center on campus – is renowned.
"That was perfect," McNitt said. "But it was a long way from home. The way people talked was a little different. And they told me I'd need to buy boots and jackets, things I never wore back home.
"But the world works in mysterious ways. It all worked out better than I could have ever imagined."
More mysterious considering that Stony Brook plays UCLA in the first round. UCLA freshman reliever David Berg
, a second-team freshman All-American according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association, is also a graduate of Bishop Amat. In fact, Berg closed Amat's Southern Section title victory in 2011 at Dodger Stadium.
Berg has pitched in a nation-leading 47 games – a Pac-12 single-season record - and sports a 1.58 ERA.
"It's awesome to be playing against him in this setting," McNitt said. "I wish him all the luck but of course hope we finish on top."
Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto, who participated in the College World Series three times (1998, 2000 and 2001) as an assistant at USC, said his program feels a part of Stony Brook's Cinderella story.
He points out, however, that Stony Brook has picked up steam for some time now, averaging more than 36 wins in its last six seasons. A 52-13 campaign in 2012 has helped.
"It's an amazing story and great treat," Nieto said. "We feel we've helped put (Stony Brook) on the national level which has put our program on a national level. It's great for our area."
Actually, another Southern California native, Tyler Johnson, started the Seawolves' left-to-right coast recruiting process. Johnson, from Crespi (Encino, Calif.)
, is a senior and the team's ace at 12-1 with a 1.94 ERA. He'll start today against UCLA.
"Getting Tyler and Brandon broke the ice coming out west and that made a significant impact on how far they've come," Nieto said.
He's not surprised how far McNitt has come.
"First, he's a great kid," Nieto said. "He's a top-notch student and hard worker. I knew he could compete at the Division I level even though he got mild interest from big schools. Stony Brook was a perfect fit. He's proved that sometimes you have to leave your backyard to blaze a trail somewhere else."E-mail Mitch Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MitchMashMax