After IPV’s disappointing 2020 season, there was little expectation from the Reds in 2021. The departure of Tuomas Jussila, Juuso Lattu and Sami Partanen meant there was little left from the core of their team. I have already done a thorough review of IPV’s 2021 season as part of the Polttolinja website, but it is worth looking at their season again.
IPV finished the season with a losing record, but due to their high points per game the finished 7th in the standings and secured their first playoff spot for over 20 years. From there IPV almost served up the most shocking result I modern history, when they were on the brink of knocking out favourites Manse in the first round.
The season was not plain sailing for IPV, with 6 games being cancelled due to covid and a number of teams challenging for the last 2 playoff spots (as Kempele was all but guaranteed a spot in the last few weeks if the season). The thing that IPV seemed to have on their side was an ability to take their chances and not let their opponent’s score affect their game. This was even more obvious in their series against Manse, where they won game 1 after Manse put 5 runs on the board to 0 in the second jakso. In game 2 Manse annihilated IPV in the first jakso 5-15, but IPV kept calm and won the game.
Rising star Rasmus Surakka built on his 2020 performances as pitcher to help lead his team this season, becoming the face of the team’s most exciting season in recent memory. Tommi Piirainen and Juho Toivola both hit 46 RBI in the season, with Juho Keinänen leading the team with 22 runs, jointly with Joona Sikiö. Sikiö moved from his role as pitcher in 2020 to focus more on his batting, and it certainly paid off.
The key to IPV’s success however is not just down to the players, game manager Jukka Mäkinen was equally (if not more) important. Mäkinen pulled the team together, kept them focussed and turned them into a success when nobody had believed in them. A clear choice for manager of the year if you look at what the team achieved.
Final place in table: 7th
Postseason performance: IPV were chosen by Manse as the team they wanted to play in the first round of the playoffs; however they stunned the Pesis community with 2 wins over the league leaders and almost beat them.
Estimated final position: My pre-season prediction was very similar to most pundits, suggesting that they would be in 11th. I doubt anybody believed in IPV, but wow I am happy to have been proven wrong.
Points per game:
Photograph 1: (c) Imatran Pallo Veikot 2021