If Jeimer Candelario regressed at first after his return to the Kane County Cougars, he appears to have responded.
His bat sure suggested so Sunday — in dramatic fashion.
Candelario’s walk-off homer with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning — his second homer of the game — gave the Cougars a 6-5 win over Beloit and a sweep of the doubleheader at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The Cougars (62-31, 17-6 second half) led 5-1 after Candelario’s three-run homer in the fifth, but Beloit tied it with three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh off reliever Michael Heesch.
Any bad vibes were put to rest when Candelario crushed an 0-1 offering for a no-doubter over the right- field fence for the game-winner.
“I was just trying to make good contact. I was fortunate to get it on the barrel,” the 20-year-old third baseman from New York said. “I was looking for a fastball, for the pitcher to make a mistake.”
Candelario, who had a six-game hitting streak snapped in Game 1, is hitting .467 (14-for-30) over his last eight games and homered Thursday at Quad Cities. He also made several sparkling plays at third base Sunday.
Candelario, rated the eighth-best prospect in the Cubs organization by Baseball America before the season, was demoted from Class A (Advanced) Daytona in June after hitting just .193 in 62 games. Candelario, the Cougars primary third baseman last year, hit .140 in his first 12 games back with Kane County.
Clearly that cold spell is history.
Cougars manager Mark Johnson, ejected in the third inning for arguing a call at first base, had a good view from the stands for both of Candelario’s blasts.
“What a day for Candy,” Johnson said. “He really needs that. After getting sent down from Daytona and kind of scuffling up there this is exactly as an organization what you want to see. That was a special moment today.”
No heroics were required in the opener.
Not with Jen-Ho Tseng, the Cougars’ 19-year-old pitcher from Taiwan, taking a shutout into the seventh inning of a tidy 1-hour, 46-minute complete game that the Cougars won 3-1.
Throwing the first complete game in his rookie professional season — albeit of the seven-inning variety — Tseng (4-0) retired 14 batters in a row at one point between a two-out single in the first and a one-out single in the sixth.
Tseng coaxed fellow Taiwan native Chih-Fang Pan to bounce into an inning-ending double play to wiggle out of a sixth-inning jam. Matt Chapman homered on the first pitch of the seventh to end the shutout, but Tseng set down the next three batters, getting Luis Baez on a called third strike to end it.
“I wish I can keep throwing that many innings in the future,” Tseng said through a translator. “The more innings I pitch, the more I can help my team win the game.”
Tseng struck out seven in the three-hit effort.
Coincidentally, Tseng’s worst professional outing came the last time he faced Beloit, when he was touched for six runs on eight hits in 4⅓ innings on June 29. He’s bounced back well, giving up just one run over 12 innings in his last two outings.
“Last time I faced them some of my pitches were a little bit high,” Tseng said. “I noticed that and tried to keep my pitches down. I paid some more attention to a couple hitters that hit me well last time.”
The Cougars, who were shut out 7-0 Saturday, put the scoreless drought to bed at 13⅓ innings with three runs in the fourth off Beloit’s Hunter Adkins.
Kyle Schwarber, 2-for-3 in the game, lined a single to start things, and Jacob Rogers followed with a rocket that ricocheted off Adkins’ glove and head into right field. Adkins remained in the game. After Candelario walked, Kevin Brown singled in a run and Cael Brockmeyer followed with a two-run single.
The Cougars are guaranteed of winning the five-game series that concludes Monday and will maintain their unbeaten home series record.Tags: Kane County Cougars
Cougars 3, Beloit 1 (Game 1)
Recap: Jen-Ho Tseng threw a seven-inning complete game, going the distance for the first time in his first professional season, striking out seven in a three-hit effort. Tseng retired 14 batters in a row at one point, his shutout bid ending on Matt Chapman’s leadoff homer in the seventh. Kyle Schwarber went 2-for-3 with a run and Cael Brockmeyer had a two-run single in a three-run fourth.
Cougars 6, Beloit 5 (Game 2)
Recap: Jeimer Candelario’s solo homer with one out in the bottom of the seventh – his second of the game – gave the Cougars a walk-off win and the doubleheader sweep. The Cougars led 5-1 after Candelario’s three-run homer in the fifth, and 5-4 before Beloit tied it with a run in the seventh. Carlos Penalver had an RBI triple and Kyle Schwarber was 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
Record: Cougars 62-31 overall, 17-6 second half.
Up next: Beloit (Lou Trivino, 4-8) at Cougars (Daury Torrez, 9-4), noon, Monday, WBIG (1280 AM).