Carhart’s cleverness comes into play in Cougars' loss
GENEVA – Ben Carhart is one of those guys who figures to land on his feet if professional baseball doesn’t go his way.
The Cougars catcher finished among the top 10 seniors academically in a class of about 600 students while participating in a challenging magnet program at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School.
“I was actually in a pre-medicine magnet, and I wanted to get out of it, and my parents wouldn’t let me,” Carhart said. “I was always a big guy competing with all my friends, we kind of had a group of guys trying to compete for grades.”
Carhart, transitioning this season from the infield to catcher, demonstrated he has plenty of baseball IQ to go with his book smarts in Monday afternoon’s 5-3 loss to Beloit in front of a youthful crowd of 3,688 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
Batting with a runner on first base in the bottom of the third, Carhart worked a hit-and-run beautifully, slapping a ground ball to the precise spot Snappers second baseman Chih-Fang Pan vacated to cover second base once the Cougars’ Carlos Penalver took off from first base.
That play put runners at the corners with one out, and cleanup batter Yasiel Balaguert responded with an RBI single to give the Cougars (11-6) a 3-0 lead.
“Nothing prettier than a hit-and-run worked perfect,” Carhart said. “[Manager Mark Johnson] called it, and I love doing hit-and-runs. He told us from the beginning of the season, he wants to do that a lot.”
Johnson called the crafty Carhart “a pleasure to coach.”
“He’s very cerebral,” Johnson said. “Tons of aptitude. Just really grasps what you say to him every day on a daily basis as far as his defense and his offense. He just thrives on information that we give him.”
Carhart hit .247 while playing first base and third base for High-A Daytona last season, then slotted down to Low-A Kane County this season as the Cubs identified Carhart as a potential option to address their organizational shortfall at catcher.
“He squats naturally and he’s got the throwing stroke,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing is he’s got the thing between his ears. He’s got a brain. That’s what you need first and foremost from your catcher. He can think through situations and think ahead of situations.”
Carhart and Penalver had two hits apiece for the Cougars but Kane County went scoreless the last six innings in dropping their third straight game.
The Cougars were hampered by three errors – and easily could have been issued a fourth – while the Snappers committed none. Third baseman David Bote committed two errors as three of the Snappers’ five runs were unearned.
Cougars starting pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng pitched five innings of three-run ball. Josh Davis, the Cougars’ third and final pitcher of the day, was the losing pitcher after allowing two, go-ahead runs in the top of the ninth.