GENEVA – Ben Carhart and Kyle Schwarber shifted to different positions rather conventionally for the second game of the Cougars' Sunday doubleheader against Beloit.
After playing second base in a 3-1 victory in the opener, Carhart served as designated hitter in Game 2. Schwarber moved from DH to left field for the nightcap, a 6-5 Kane County win.
Providing the requisite wackiness of every twin bill, one of the most mobile Cougars went from left field to coach first base. Trey Martin stole a club record five bases in a game last month. On Sunday, he collected teammates' batting gloves after manager Mark Johnson's ejection in the third inning of Game 2 prompted further shuffling outside the lines.
"I was just the closest one to a helmet, the first base coach helmet," Martin said. Then I got it and went out there."
Almost as matter-of-factly, the Cougars (17-6 second half, 62-31 overall) maintained the Midwest League's best record.
Taiwanese right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng captained the effort, breezing through Beloit in 87 pitches in the opener while spacing one run, three hits and seven strikeouts in a complete-game seven innings. Beloit designated hitter Matt Chapman's solo home run on the first pitch of the seventh marked Tseng's lone blemish in the longest outing of his career.
"This is my first time to pitch seven innings, that long, as a professional player," Tseng said through translator Fox Sung, "and I wish I can keep throwing that many innings in the future, because the more innings I pitch, that means I can help out the team to win the game."
A 19-year-old undrafted free agent who signed with the Cubs in 2013, Tseng fared well against most every Snapper, but notably held countryman Chih-Fang Pan hitless in three at-bats as Beloit's second baseman. The two know one another through mutual friends and sometimes dine together in the offseason.
Now 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA, Tseng mixed a low-90s fastball with an array of breaking pitches. Keeping the ball down, he improved on a rocky outing against the Snappers two weeks ago – six runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. He has felt increasingly comfortable since missing most of May and early June with tightness in his throwing shoulder.
"I will do whatever I need to do to help out the health of my shoulder," Tseng said. "I think the reason I was shut down for the DL, that was because I didn't do enough warm-ups before the game."
Sunday's sweep assured a series victory in a five-game set that concludes at noon Monday. While Beloit (6-16, 36-56) scuffles, several Cougars enter the finale on a tear.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who saw a six-game hitting streak end in Game 1, blasted two home runs and had four RBIs in the nightcap. His walk-off solo shot against Snappers righty Tyler Vail rescued a potentially sour ending.
The Cougars grabbed a 5-1 lead on Candelario's three-run shot in the fifth, but the bullpen was unable to keep the lead.
"Every time, you've got to keep playing and keep playing hard," said Candelario, who was transferred from Advanced-A Daytona last month. "Just focus in every time and do everything you can."
Johnson saw both home runs with his young son, Will, retreating to the press box and later the stands after his ejection.
In one sense, his passion matched the Cougars' overall approach to doubleheaders. The team improved to 7-7 in twin bills this season.
"It's two, seven-inning games, so you've got to get on them, got to get the game going faster," second baseman David Bote said. "It's two [fewer] innings, which doesn't seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, you're starting with authority, and it feels like you've got to get to work quick."