BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - As key components of the Boilermakers' greatest year-to-year turnaround in program history, three of Purdue baseball's newcomers were recognized as part of the All-Big Ten teams announced by the league office on the eve of the conference tournament.
Additionally, senior Hayden Grant was recognized as the Boilermakers' Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree. Grant was a dugout captain regularly for the first nine weekends of the season, but he was ready when his opportunity arrived in mid-April. He has now started the last 19 games at third base, solidifying the position defensively.
Stroh has been Purdue's most consistent performer on the mound since the start of Big Ten play. Beginning with his April 1 win at Ohio State, six of his last eight weekend outings have been official quality starts (6 IP, 3 ER or fewer). The Boilermakers were victorious in all six of those quality starts and have won nine of his 14 starts total. Since the start of league play, he has pitched a team-high 63 innings while compiling a 2.43 ERA and .224 batting average against.
Stroh was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week after his complete-game two-hitter against Illinois, an outing in which he retired 27 of 29 batters faced. That was one of five starts this season in which he did not walk a batter. The left-hander is Purdue's first All-Big Ten starting pitcher since Joe Haase (first team) and Lance Breedlove (second team) were both recognized in 2012.
A converted infielder, Hunter has made all 51 of his starts in center field this year. He reached base safely in 22 of the 24 Big Ten games this year while starting every game since the beginning Purdue's spring break trip (March 10). The Oregon native enters the Big Ten Tournament leading the team in batting average (.325) and hits (63), 28 of his hits coming with two outs. He has hit safely in every game of six different weekends and is on pace to become Purdue's first freshman to lead the team in batting average since Kevin Plawecki in 2010. Hunter is already the first freshman since 2010 to reach the 30-RBI benchmark.
Bonner opened the season as the backup catcher behind Nick Dalesandro, but played his way into the everyday lineup. He leads the Boilermakers in walks (26) while ranking second in doubles (13) and OPS (.822). He's only the fourth Purdue freshman to record 13 doubles. The Texas native started 25 straight games from March 31 to May 13, including 14 consecutive games at catcher during that stretch. Bonner was behind the plate for every inning of the Boilermakers' second seven-game win streak of the season. During that streak, Purdue did not trail for 57 consecutive innings.
Hunter and Bonner are the Boilermakers' first Big Ten All-Freshman Team honorees since four Purdue players were recognized in 2013. The All-Freshman team was added to the league's postseason honors program in 2009.
The Boilermakers have won 19 more games than last season, including 10 more in Big Ten play. They became the first team since Penn State (2010-11) to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament one year after finishing last in the conference standings. With a victory this week in Bloomington, Purdue will have tripled its win total from last year. The Boilermakers square off against Nebraska on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET.