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Balancing baseball and biology

Junior Brandon McNitt currently  has a 4.19 ERA and a 1-3 record through eight starts this season. (PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK ATHLETICS)
Junior Brandon McNitt currently has a 4.19 ERA and a 1-3 record through eight starts this season. (PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK ATHLETICS)

It’s all about focus for Brandon McNitt.

A right-handed pitcher who moved to number one in the Seawolves starting rotation this season, he is also a biochemistry major who hopes to one day become either an anesthesiologist or a plastic surgeon.

With such a loaded schedule and heavy workload, McNitt, 21, has to work to keep himself regimented.

“You have to be disciplined enough to use your time wisely,” he said. “The way I go about baseball and school is pretty similar: you focus for an hour or two and then you take a break.”

A junior, this is his third year as a starter. Head coach Matt Senk says he chose him as number one because he relies on McNitt’s intelligence on the mound.

“He’s a very good student and I think Brandon takes that intelligence to the field,” Senk said. “He’s a smart baseball player, he’s extremely competitive – a combination of intelligence and competitiveness with a real good arm makes for a very effective pitcher.”

A self-proclaimed “perfectionist,” McNitt threw 3-2/3 innings in the College World Series last year, giving up nine runs (only four were earned).

Although he says that it is a confidence booster to have pitched at the highest level known to college ballplayers, he tries not to let it get to his head.

“That’s when bad things happen,” he said. “You get a big head and things start to go downhill and you try to do more and it snowballs.”

So far this season, McNitt has started seven games for the 9-16 Seawolves. He has a 1-3 record, with thirty strikeouts and a 4.19 ERA.

“My goal personally is to do well, do the best that I can to help our team win,” he said. “The main goal is to be consistent.”

McNitt is originally from California. He attended Bishop Amat High School, where he was a three-year varsity baseball player, a two-year letterwinner in football and a member of the National Honors Society.

McNitt says the decision to attend school on the other side of the country was a no-brainer because “it’s four years of your life living in New York.” The scholarship he received and the chance of ample playing time as an underclassman, combined with the fact that Stony Brook has a good science program, made SBU the easy choice.

Interestingly, many of McNitt’s teammates are also Californians, a fact that boggles most people’s minds. They all have different reasons but, according to McNitt, they all want to move back to the West coast after they graduate.

“It’s a different environment,” he said. “It’s just a different world than we’re used to; we’re used to happy-go-lucky, cruising, whatever, whereas over [on the East coast] it’s hectic.”

This laid-back California demeanor is something Senk wishes McNitt would improve on. His quietness does not help him when it comes to being a leader.

“He has a lot of things going for him that would allow him to be a leader on the team but I think that, because he’s kind of a quiet guy, sometimes Brandon is not as verbal a leader as I would like,” Senk says.

For his part, McNitt thinks his biggest weakness is laziness.

“I get lazy at times,” he said. “Instead of going home and studying, I go to sleep.”

With such a hectic lifestyle, it is no wonder the kid wants to take a nap every once and awhile. But again, that easy-going manner helps keep him on track.

“Nothing ever bothers me,” he said. “So I can have a million things going on and I don’t get stressed out, I don’t worry about all of them at once.”

McNitt says several reasons factored into his becoming a Seawolf, but one of the biggest ones was Stony Brook’s excellent medical program, which McNitt found to be the right fit for him. As a perfectionist, McNitt believes a career in plastic surgery would be right for him because “that’s the point of the job, to make people look perfect,” and going to a school as prestigious in the medical community as Stony Brook will hopefully help him achieve that goal.

He says his original plan was to use baseball to pay for school, but now, if his baseball career continues, he will continue with it knowing he has his education to fall back on.

“The plan is to ride out baseball as long as I can and then eventually do the whole medicine thing,” he said.

As a student and an athlete, McNitt gets to be a part of two things that Stony Brook excels at. And that, he says, is the best.

“Being a part of something that’s bigger than you and being able to represent a whole university that is prestigious, it’s easy to be a Seawolf,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of something that’s always winning…cause losing sucks.”

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