When it comes to rivalries, there is none greater for Indiana baseball than the in-state rivalry it shares with the Purdue Boilermakers.
For most players and fans, the three-game series between the two teams from April 9–11 will serve as nothing more than another faceoff between the two rivals. But for two players on the diamond, this series also serves as a reunion. Indiana junior pitcher Jack Perkins and Purdue senior pitcher Kyle Wade will return to playing on the same field, though now on different teams.
Perkins and Wade are each four-year letterwinners for the Kokomo High School Wildkats baseball team, also sharing three seasons together on Kokomo’s varsity football team. For Perkins, this rivalry is newly personal, as it is his first season with the Hoosiers.
Despite it being his first season, Perkins said the matchup will matter by the end of the season. Since the series is also an in-state Big Ten matchup, the rivalry is a big deal to players and fans alike.
Even though the rivalry is nothing new for Wade, a fourth-year Boilermaker, this year’s series will be a little different.
“The last four years I have not played Indiana at home, so getting them to West Lafayette will be exciting too,” Wade said. “Jack on the other side will make it maybe a little more enticing, maybe a little more oomph to the fire of wanting to beat them.”
Wade said this series is personal to him since Purdue has not won a series against Indiana in his four years with the team. Moreover, the Hoosiers have won every series against Boilermakers since 2017, the last time the rivalry series was played in West Lafayette.
Despite this winning streak, the Boilermakers have won the last four series played in West Lafayette. Perkins has the chance to lead the Hoosiers and change this streak in his first year as a Hoosier. Wade said he is excited to lead the Boilermakers in the series and hopes to keep using the team’s home field advantage toward another series win against Indiana.
Perkins said he’s excited to see Wade when the two face off.
“I think we’re two very competitive teams, obviously friendship going back to high school, he’s my best friend still to this day,” Perkins said. “It’s gonna be competitive.”
For the two players, this on-field reunion is more than just a faceoff between rivals: it’s also a faceoff between longtime friends.
“I think they might have a little more trash talk going on in that dugout, he knows all the deep dark secrets,” Perkins said. “I’ll be curious to hear what they’re able to yell, but in the moment I’m hoping I’m gonna be locked in. I’m not gonna be able to really hear what’s going on until after the game, but I’m really excited to face him.”
Wade said his mentality won’t change in preparation of facing the Perkins-led Indiana team.
“Obviously we’re really close,” Wade said. “I’m cheering for him, but at the end of the day, everybody’s trying to win, so I’m excited for it.”
Perkins reminisced about a memorable moment with Wade in high school. In their senior year, the Kokomo Wildkats football team made it to the state championship. For Perkins, the run the team made and the leadership Wade demonstrated were the most memorable and definitive events of their time playing together.
“A lot of people think of it as Jack and Kyle Wade coming out of Kokomo High School, but I look up to him,” Perkins said. “He’s a brother to me, and I love him.”
The Hoosiers face off against the Boilermakers in the three-game series from April 9–11 in West Lafayette.