DALLAS (Purdue Sports) — Another preseason All-America accolade has been bestowed upon Purdue baseball's record-setting relief pitcher Ross Learnard.
The senior left-hander was part of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's preseason All-Americans, representing the Boilermakers on the second team. The same organization honored him as a second team All-American at the end of the 2017 campaign after he went 6-0 with four saves, a 0.58 ERA and .196 batting average against over 46 1/3 innings.
Learnard's first preseason All-America honor of the 2017-18 school year came from Collegiate Baseball in December. The longstanding baseball newspaper will also be featuring Learnard in an upcoming issue. Additionally, Perfect Game tabbed Learnard as the lone reliever on its preseason All-Big Ten team.
Headlined by an impressive streak of 35 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, which stretched from the spring break trip through Purdue's final home weekend in mid-May, Learnard put together one of the finest seasons on the mound by a Boilermaker. He eclipsed a minimum 30 innings ERA record that had stood since 1965. His WHIP (0.86, 2nd) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.83, 7th) mark were also among best ever by Boilermakers that pitched at least 30 innings. By winning all six of his decisions, he recorded the most wins for a season in program history without taking a loss.
Learnard made 13 of his team-high 27 appearances in Big Ten play, compiling a 0.42 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 21 2/3 innings. Again, the ERA was a new Purdue season record (minimum 15 innings). The only run he was charged with in conference play was the streak-ender Michigan scored on May 14 at Alexander Field. He made 22 appearances during his consecutive scoreless innings streak, working more than an inning 14 times during the historic run.
Learnard was among the 16 newcomers that helped the Boilermakers post a 19-win improvement in 2017. Purdue had eight pitchers work at least 25 innings last year and six of them are back this season. The pitching staff will be much more balanced this season as well, with eight left-handers and 10 right-handers.
Learnard and his teammates will be signing autographs at the Boilermakers' preseason fan fest Sunday (3-5 p.m. ET) in the Mollenkopf Athletic Center. He and his classmates were featured on the program's Sandlot-inspired team poster, which was very well received when it was unveiled on social media last week. Fans can take home a poster from Sunday's free fan event.
Around the Big Ten, Indiana's Matt Lloyd (second team utility), Michigan's Ako Thomas (third team second baseman) and Nebraska's Luis Alvarado (third team utility) were also voted to the NCBWA preseason All-America teams.