TUCSON, Ariz. (Purdue Sports) — Ross Learnard was credited with a save in 10 of Purdue's 17 Big Ten wins this season, earning the senior closer All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
Learnard was selected as one of the four relievers on Collegiate Baseball's third team of All-Americans. He was honored as a second team All-America reliever by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in 2017 and remains on this year's NCBWA ballot as it enters the second round of voting.
Learnard, who graduated this spring, is the first member of the program to be a full-fledged All-American in multiple seasons. He's the first Boilermaker recognized as an All-American by Collegiate Baseball since Kevin Plawecki was a second team catcher in 2012.
Even with a change in responsibilities this year, Learnard was equally effective in the Purdue bullpen. He took over the closer role after posting his program-record 0.58 ERA in 2017 as a multi-inning relief ace. In a team-high 28 appearances, he has recorded a program-record 15 saves plus two victories. He led the Big Ten in saves through the end of the regular season and was also tops in the league with 10 saves in conference play, earning third team All-Big Ten honors.
Twice this season, Learnard closed out four victories in one week. He became the first reliever to win Big Ten Pitcher of the Week since March 2015 after posting a win and three saves as the Boilermakers won in extra innings at Indiana State and then swept a series at Maryland. It was that successful weekend in College Park that ignited the program's 21-3 stretch, which in turn helped earn Purdue an NCAA Regional bid.
The final week of the regular season, the Boilermakers went 4-0 vs. Oral Roberts and Michigan. Learnard was recognized as Perfect Game's National Pitcher of the Week after he earned the save in all four victories, becoming the only reliever to win that award this season. It was that week coupled with a 3-1 showing at the Big Ten Tournament that clinched the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Learnard has allowed runs in only six of his 55 career appearances as a Boilermaker. His 1.36 career ERA is line to become a program for a minimum 75 innings pitched. He posted a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 24 1/3 this season. It was snapped on tough day in Columbus in mid-May. In a non-save situation, the lefty was charged with six runs on four hits and two walks over one-third of an inning. Remove that outing from his season stats, and his ERA drops from 2.45 to 0.83 over 32 2/3 innings.
For the season, Learnard has recorded 32 strikeouts vs. seven walks while surrendering just 26 hits in 33 innings. If he earns a save this weekend at the NCAA Regional in Chapel Hill, he'll become just the second pitcher in program history with 20 in his career.
Purdue's career saves record in Big Ten play entering the season was 11. He nearly eclipsed it in one year while making the new benchmark in conference play 15. All four of his saves as a junior were against Big Ten opponents.
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