TUCSON, Ariz. - A program-record 0.58 ERA coupled with an impressive scoreless innings streak that spanned two months helped garner Purdue baseball's Ross Learnard 2018 preseason All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
The senior left-hander was recognized as a third team reliever on Collegiate Baseball's preseason All-America teams, which were announced Monday. He was named a second team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America last season.
Learnard's instant impact as a junior college transfer from Parkland College was a key component in the greatest turnaround season in program history. He made 21 of his 27 relief appearances during his streak of 35 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, which spanned from March 11 to May 14. The Boilermakers posted 21 of their 29 victories during that stretch, finishing the campaign with 19 more victories than the previous year. For the season, he did not surrender a run over 28 2/3 innings of relief while pitching in 15 of the team's victories.
Learnard's 0.58 ERA established a new Purdue record (minimum 30 innings), eclipsing a benchmark that had stood since 1965. His 0.42 ERA in Big Ten play was also a new record (minimum 15 innings) and his 0.863 WHIP ranked second on the Purdue single-season list.
Collegiate Baseball recognized Bryce Bonner as a Freshman All-American last season. Bonner caught 129 consecutive innings for Purdue from April 18 to May 13. Learnard worked 11 1/3 innings of his memorable scoreless streak during that stretch, earning three victories in his six appearances. The Boilermakers did not trail for 57 consecutive innings during a seven-game win streak from April 19 to 29.
Learnard and Bonner are among a group of 19 returning letterwinners. The Boilermakers welcomed back starters at eight spots in the batting order and five of the six pitchers that worked at least 40 innings in 2017.
Learnard pitched 46 1/3 innings over his 27 appearances, recording six wins and four saves. He limited opposing hitters to a .196 batting average and surrendered only seven extra-base hits (all doubles).
The Boilermakers open their 2018 campaign the weekend of Feb. 16 to 18 with a three-game series at Baylor.