After playing a lot more, it seems there's a very specific angle you need to hit the lift at which would careen the ball towards the hole, over the little ridge and then roll down it into the hole. A little one way or the other flings the ball down the right habitrail or around the back (hitting the cart, maybe) and down the left habitrail. But get it right and and you see the ball go up, then roll into the hole.
Middle of the flipper up the right side of the slam ramp. Otherwise inside of the flipper up the left side of the slam ramp off the cart.
Off the cart is more random and will create more balls that roll off the mini playfield, down the ramp and down the middle. The advantage of going to the right is that it doesn't create a lot of SDTM.