Halli SM review - Kouvolan Pallonlyöjat v Hyvinkään Tahko (08.02.2020)
|Tahko come up short in a hard fought defensive game against KPL|
Photograph from Tahko Facebook (c) Hyvinkään Tahko 2020
Kouvolan Pallonlyöjat v Hyvinkään Tahko
2-0 (1-0, 3-2)
KPL were eager to get their Halli-SM campaign off to a good start, whereas Tahko tried to reboot their tournament after their defeat to Manse PP last week. In the recent matches between the 2 teams, the results have been fairly even with KPL taking the edge 3 games out of the last 5. The last 2 matches have been 1-0 wins for KPL and Tahko with little separating them. Tahko opted for a mostly unchanged lineup from the one that faced Manse PP on 1st February. The only replacement was Kristian Malikine in the catcher role who replaced Kaapo Kalmari, with Matias Kauppinen moving to 3rd base. For KPL, this was their first competitive match to show off Jere Dahlström, who they signed in the 2019 offseason.
Tahko struggled to generate anything in the 1st inning with some tight fielding meaning that only Jere Vikström was able to reach base safely, even then, his progression was halted immediately and was put out at 2nd base. KPL seemed to have more success at finding space, but their inning was also scoreless. KPL’s chance to score fell short as Anssi Lammila was easily beaten to home base by the throw after an extraordinary diving catch from the Tahko right shortstop. Tahko’s 2nd inning fared little better than their 1st, with the game still tied at 0-0. Whilst Tahko managed to create runners in the 2nd inning, they still were not able to successfully move anyone to 3rd base safely. KPL’s Anssi Lammila reached 1st base with a short shot down the right foul line in order to move Matti Saukko to 2nd. From there Anssi Lammila progressed to 2nd base off Sasu Toikka’s hit, bringing Toni Laakso the plate. Toni Laakso managed to move Anssi Lammila to 3rd base and set up for the run. Toni Laakso’s hit to deep centre field split Tahko’s defence and gave Anssi Lammila plenty of time to reach home safely. This was to be the only run of the inning as, despite Toni Laakso reaching 3rd base from a wild throw, KPL were unable to capitalise. The remainder of the jakso was a close run thing with only 1 run separating the teams. Tahko’s closest chance to scoring came in the 3rd inning with their only 3rd base situation of the jakso. Patrik Vartama strayed from 3rd base as a bad pitch was controlled by Janne Kivipelto at home to make the out. KPL won the jakso 1-0.
In the second jakso KPL took to the plate first, but they failed to score despite their leadoff man Tommi Mäentausta reaching 3rd base unhindered and having 3 scoring opportunities in short succession. Tahko scored their first run of the game in the 1st inning of the second jakso after a muted start was suddenly reignited by Jere Vikström who was the first Tahko player to reach base following a looping hit to left field found some space. Jere Vikström progressed to 3rd base and Tahko managed to find china’s in KPL\s armour. The run came when Juha Korhonen’s rolling hit crossed the midfield line and allowed Jere Vikström plenty of time to reach home. The score remained 0-1 to Tahko and the pressure started to build as it was KPL’s turn to struggle at the plate. In the 2nd inning KPL were completely shut down as no player was able to progress safely beyond 1st base. In the 3rd inning however, KPL levelled the score as Jere Dahlström’s line drive found an impossible gap and dropped between the right shortstop and right outfielder to give a sprinting Matti Saukko time to reach home safely.
|Tahko now focus on Superpesis after their tournament ends early|
Photograph from Tahko Facebook (c) Hyvinkään Tahko 2020
At the bottom of the 3rd inning Tahko struck with purpose as a thundering hit to right field saw Teemu Rouhiainen reach 1st base with confidence. Tahko looked to gain the upper hand and swiftly regained their lead as Jere Korhonen’s line drive was too hard to handle by the outstretched KPL shortstop and turned a catch (that would have seen Teemu Rouhiainen haava) into a run. With the game heading towards a tiebreak, KPL stepped up and sought to win the game outright in the 4th inning. With 2 outs and the chances of a comeback narrowing, Matti Latvala’s deep hit to right field stayed in bounds enough for Ville Pesu to race home and tie the jakso 2-2. Seconds later Toni Kohonen stunned Tahko with a long fly ball to the back line that turned into a ground rule double that saw Toni Laakso score and give KPL the lead. After losing the lead for the second time in the jakso, Tahko took to the plate to claw the game back and avoid their Halli-SM tournament ending early. With the pressure mounting for Tahko, KPL kept cool heads and showed some great defensive plays to deny Tahko any 3rd base situations. The jakso ended 3-2 to KPL.
Despite KPL winning both jakso, the game was in fact much closer and it came down to small margins here and there that made the difference. In the first jakso, Tahko simply did not have enough 3rd base situations and really struggled to find gaps in a very lively KPL defence. On the flip side, KPL only managed to score 1 run during the first jakso with Tahko also making some great plays for the ball and limiting them to three 3rd base situations. The defensive efforts from both teams really stood out - the fact that the teams were held to 47% and 41% overall at successfully moving the point runners shows how difficult it was at the plate today. In the end, KPL’s 13 3rd base situations outmatched Tahko’s 8, which gave KPL the extra chances it needed to break the deadlock.
The loss means that Tahko are the first team to be eliminated from the running to win the tournament, as the final group game will determine whether KPL or Manse PP advance to the knockout stages. Tahko will feel disappointed not to be advancing, but the truth is that they faced a challenging and highly competitive Manse PP side before playing last years Halli-SM and Superpesis bronze medalists.
KPL will breath a sigh of relief at having beaten Tahko in a close game, but now their thoughts will immediately turn to Manse PP who they face next weekend. KPL will enter the match as favourites without a doubt; however KPL will need to turn out a solid performance again to avoid losing out to last year’s Ykköspesis champions.
Manse PP, Tampere v Kouvolan Pallonlyöjat - 15.02.2020
pj:Iiro Haimi Saku Kapanen
3-tilanteet:13, harhat:0, vapaat:0
pj:Pasi Kokkonen Juuso Kerola
3-tilanteet:8, harhat:0, vapaat:0