WEST LAFAYETTE — The last time Purdue won a Big Ten baseball championship, William Howard Taft was in the White House, World War I was five years away and Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii had not yet been granted statehood.
It had been so long, in fact, that the Chicago Cubs were the defending World Series champions and their iconic current ballpark was the site of the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary.
That all changed Saturday afternoon. With a 14-3 victory over Michigan in the second game of a three-game series, Purdue (39-9, 16-4) secured at least a share of its first Big Ten baseball title since 1909, and Kokomo High School product Andrew Quinnette became a part of history.
Quinnette, who was a member of Kokomo’s Class 4A state runner-up team in 2007, began his college career at Valparaiso. He made 43 starts as a freshman in 2008, batting .304 with 34 RBI. In 2009 he batted .236 and he made a total of five relief appearances for the Crusaders. His career took a turn when he decided to transfer to Purdue.
“Transferring was tough sitting out a year, then sitting another year for an injury. It’s been a long road back,” the Boiler senior said as he wore his Big Ten champs T-shirt and hat. “To be part of this team and doing something that hasn’t been done in 103 years is a great feeling, honestly.”
Before Saturday, Quinnette had made only two appearances on the mound for the Boilermakers. He pitched a scoreless inning at Victory Field against Anderson University and then gave up a run in two innings of work against IPFW on Tuesday in Fort Wayne.
Saturday was his home debut, as he took over in the eighth inning for starter Lance Breedlove. Breedlove retired 20 straight before Quinnette entered, leaving with a comfortable 12-0 lead. Unfortunately, Quinnette got knocked around a bit, giving up a single and a home run to Coley Crank before giving up a double against his final batter.