Baseball is a game of numbers, and for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Ben Buerkle (Roseville, Minn.)—who wore a different jersey number each of his four years as a Cardinal—one number stands out above all the rest: One.
Buerkle closed out an illustrious career as the Cardinals’ all-time career leader in nine different categories—not to mention holding three single-season school records.
Wednesday afternoon, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) unveiled the 2017 Division III Academic All-America® Teams, and once again Buerkle—and the number “one”—stood out.
After being named an Academic All-America® Third-Teamer each of the last two seasons, Buerkle moved up one team this season, earning Academic All-America® Second-Team honors when the teams were announced this time around.
Buerkle was the only student-athlete from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named to one of the three Academic All-America® Teams—and, even more impressive, he was the only one of the 35 honored on the First-, Second- and Third-Teams to be named Academic All-America® for a third consecutive year.
Wednesday’s announcement marked the latest in a long line of post-season accolades for Buerkle—who graduated in May with a 3.78 cumulative GPA as a double-major in Business Management and Finance. Last week, Buerkle was selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-Midwest Region Team for the fourth straight year, while landing D3baseball.com All-Midwest Region honors for the third consecutive season.
In his final year in a Cardinal uniform, Buerkle started all 39 games—all in center field—hitting a team-leading .405 (53-for-153). He also led or shared the team lead in runs (39), hits (53), doubles (13), total bases (92), slugging percentage (.702), walks (31)—including 18 in his last 14 games—and on-base percentage (.524). Defensively, Buerkle was nearly perfect from his position in center field, making just two errors in 112 chances (.982 fielding percentage), while collecting 105 putouts and adding five assists.
Buerkle, who opened each of his four collegiate seasons with hits in at least 10 consecutive games, was held off the base paths just twice this season. He recorded at least one hit in 30 of the Cardinals’ 39 games this season and closed out his career having collected at least one hit in 140 of the 158 games he played in—while reaching base safely in 153 of those 158 games.
Buerkle concluded his Saint Mary’s career as the program’s all-time hits leader with 233, while also owning career records in doubles (51), triples (13), runs (162), RBIs (150), and games played (158). Just one of two players in program history with more than 200 career hits—and the only one with 50 or more hits in all four seasons—Buerkle’s .413 career batting average is second only to Tim Piechowski’s program-record .417 mark.
There are 18 individuals among the 35 honorees on the three CoSIDA Academic All-America® baseball teams that have a 3.90 or better grade-point average, with four earning a perfect 4.00 GPA. This year’s CoSIDA Academic All-America® Division III baseball team features eight individuals who have earned multiple CoSIDA Academic All-America® honors in their careers—led by Buerkle with three.
The CoSIDA Division III Academic All-America® program is financially supported by the NCAA Division III national governance structure, to assist CoSIDA with handling the awards fulfillment aspects for the 2016-17 Division III Academic All-America® teams program.