Halli SM review - Manse PP Tampere v Kouvolan Pallonlyöjat (15.02.20)
|KPL won a tough game full of controversies and excellent plays.|
Photograph from KPL Facebook (c) Kouvolan Pallonlyöjat 2020
Manse PP, Tampere v Kouvolan Pallonlyöjat
0-2 (0-3, 1-2)
This game received the highest number of votes on our twitter poll as to which game we should review this weekend. The significant amount of interest in this game echoed the intrusive and intensity behind the subplots to this matchup. Both these teams entered this game with wins under their belts against Tahko which made this game the decider as to who would advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. Manse PP had a strong outing against Tahko and shocked everyone with a stunning 2-0 win, outscoring Tahko 10 runs to 5. Despite having such a strong performance at the plate, Manse PP struggled in the field with several walks in the game including 1 run being walked home. In contrast KPL’s performance against Tahko last weekend was defensively very strong, limiting Tahko to just 8 3rd base situations and a 41% success rate overall at moving the point runner. KPL’s offence however struggled to gain a clear advantage over a Tahko and they were shut down to just 47% success rate at moving the point runner, with new signing and legend Jere Dahlström being held to 1/5 with runners on 3rd base. To add to the drama and back stories, Manse PP are looking to make a big impact for the return of a Tampere team to Superpesis later in the year and have former KPL manager Matti Iivainen at the helm. KPL on the other hand are looking for a breakthrough to end their championship drought. KPL have routinely been one of the stronger sides in Superpesis in recent years, snapping up 3 silver medals since 2009 and 1 bronze. Their Halli-SM form has equally been difficult, picking up 3 bronze and 2 silver medals in the tournament. KPL did win gold in 2006, but since then they have always fallen short. The question for KPL is - will this be their year? Is Jere Dahlström the final piece to their puzzle?
Manse PP got off to a difficult start, walking Matti Saukko to 1st base and later to 3rd base with no outs. The situation however was defused (albeit controversially) when Saukko was thrown out at home as Toni Laakso was treated as a committed runner, having stuttered in progressing to 1st base before returning to home. Despite protests from the KPL players and manager, the game continued scoreless. Another chance for KPL fell short when Ville Pesu was easily thrown out after Jere Dahlström’s low hit rolled to the midfield line and was scooped up by the Manse PP left shortstop. But the Tampere defence had to buckle at some point, as Juho Hacklin’s line drive to right field saw Matti Latvala sprint for home, beating the throw which fell short and bounced into Petteri Alanen’s waiting glove. In the bottom of the inning Manse PP were completely shut down, as they were denied runners beyond 1st base until Jukka Tuomisto broke through with a looping hit to short left infield, dropping between 1st and 3rd base. This threat was short lived as Tommi Malinen’s hit to a deep set field was easily fielded at the midfield line and thrown home, beating Tuomisto by some margin.
KPL doubled their lead in the 2nd inning as Matti Saukko drew another walk to 1st base before Toni Laakso brought him home to score. As Laakso came to the plate Saukko was on second base; however a well placed bunt towards 1st base set Saukko up for the run. Laakso’s next swing of the bat drilled a high ball into left field in plenty of space - the run was inevitable and Saukko strode home to beat the throw. Manse PP’s inning started with an opportunistic dash to 3rd base off a wild throw end for Tuomas Tuohisaari in an out - credit is given for Tuohisaari’s hustle, as he sped from 1st to 2nd and then on to 3rd in quick succession; however his pace was no match for the throw to 3rd. From there, Manse continued to struggle to find gaps and 2 3rd base situations ended without a score. KPL’s third run came in the 3rd inning as Matti Latvala’s hit to centre slipped by the Manse fielder just beyond the midfield line to allow Matti Saukko to score. The 3rd inning saw Manse yet again shut down and they failed to get any runners to 3rd base safely. KPL were held scoreless in the 4th inning with some slick fielding from Manse, limiting KPL to just 1 runner reaching beyond 1st base safely. With a 3 run deflect to overcome Manse immediately came under pressure from KPL, with outs coming swiftly in the inning. Manse was unable to mount an offensive and fell short of reaching 3rd base at all in the inning. KPL won 0-3.
Manse PP started the 1st inning with zip, but they were unable to capitalise from 2 3rd base situations. The first chance came and went as Juha Niemi’s line drive was snatched out of the air and thrown to home, leaving Juuso Myllyniemi some way short. The second chance came apart as a unit shot was fielded and thrown to home in dramatic fashion. KPL’s leadoff man had struggled to get on base during the game, but a walk to 1st gifted him the chance to show off his blistering speed around the bases. Before long Tommi Mäentausta was rushing towards home to give KPL a 0-1 lead off Jere Dahlström’s first successful hit of the game. The pressure was clearly on to beat Tommi Mäentausta as the throw to home was rushed and sailed wide of Petteri Alanen. The second inning brought a change of fortune for Manse PP despite a tough start - the first 5 batters that came to the plate failed to register a hit than moved the point runner successfully. As Tuomas Tuohisaari stood poised at 3rd base, Ville Hotakainen strike a line drive across the midfield line. As Tuohisaari dived for home, the ball met Janne Kivipelto’s glove - initially KPL thought they had the out, but officials called the run, stating that Tuohisaari beat the throw. Having watched the play several times, it is such a tight call; however Kivipelto’s foot was just outside the home base line when he fielded the ball and therefore the call on the field seems to have been correct. With the score now tied at 1-1 KPL turned up the pressure once more and Manse were unable to break the deadlock.
With the game on a knife edge, KPL came to bat at the bottom of the 2nd inning looking to retake the lead. Tommi Mäentausta found first base easily, but not without controversy as teammates insisted that his shot past 2nd base should have been deemed a ground rule double following a misfield. With 2 more walks to 1st base in the inning, KPL were not short of active runners. After Ville Pesu walked to 1st base, he advanced again from another walk with Toni Laakso at bat. The go ahead run came as Matti Latvala’s hit to deep right field gave Pesu a chance to run from 2nd base all the way home. Pesu’s run was quick and he slid home safely after Manse struggled to control the ball at the midfield line with a cut-off throw. Trailing in the game once more, Manse did their best to create chances;. Jukka Tuomisto reached 3rd base, but was l;eft stranded as Timo Torppa struck out for the final out. KPL’s 3rd inning was limited to 1 chance to extend their lead. With no outs, Jere Dahlström came to the plate with the bases loaded, his first pitch was hit and sailed beyond the back line for a foul; the second was caught in right field without anyone advancing; the third pitch hit home plate to strike him out, but in doing so, Petteri Alanen turned this into a triple play running the ball to first and then 3rd base (as the runners were not on their bases when the pitch landed). With the game still in reach, Manse pushed to keep their tournament hopes alive; however they were unable to get any runners safely to 3rd base in the final inning and KPL won the jakso 1-2 and with it the game.
KPL will be pleased to have advanced despite the hype around Manse coming into the game. KPL put up some solid numbers and shut Manse down in the field comprehensively. Manse were limited to 8 3rd base situations in the game (compared to KPL’s 11) and only managed to score once. With some tight game management KPL ensured that they were on for the win, sticking to the fundamentals. However, Jere Dahlström seemed to struggle to find space today and his stats for this game are bellow his average. Somehow the ball seemed to fall directly into the laps of Manse PP fielders. The only successful hit for Dahlström came in the second jakso with KPL’s run in the 1st inning. One other issue of note was the fact that KPL’s leadoff man Tommi Mäentausta was virtually taken out of the game, being limited to just 1/5 to 1st base.
Overall Manse PP put on a strong showing; however KPL clearly gave the more polished performance. Manse PP have shown over the 2 games they have played in the tournament that they are a dynamic and exciting team to watch. Their downfall is in the lack of experience and fine margins in a game. With Petteri Alanen in this game and Taneli Lassila in the Tahko game giving up a number of walks, it is clear that some refinement is needed. In games such as this, where a run here and there made the difference, walking 9 players in the game could have made the difference. If nothing else it exposed the Manse defence and took away pressure from KPL. You can see what the Lukkari is trying to do with difficult deliveries to strike out the batters; however this is a high risk strategy when accuracy of the pitch cannot be guaranteed. I am excited to see Manse PP in Superpesis later in the year and I suspect that they will pull off a fair few surprises with their vibrant and creative style of play.
To be confirmed
pj:Matti Iivarinen Sampo Pasanen
3-tilanteet:8, harhat:0, vapaat:0
pj:Iiro Haimi Sako Kapanen
3-tilanteet:11, harhat:0, vapaat:0