The first game was close throughout as the Whitecaps took their hacks at one of the Midwest League’s top pitchers in Keyvius Sampson. The 20-year-old San Diego Padres’ prospect entered play 2-0 through his first two starts of the year with a perfect 0.00 ERA and a sparkling 19-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Whitecaps trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth when Sampson issued a pair of walks and was removed from the contest. Billy Nowlin welcomed reliever Yefri Carvajal into the game with a single, loading the bases and setting the stage for Robbins to deliver the big blow.
The slugging first baseman did not disappoint, swinging at the first pitch he saw and driving a laser over the fence in right field for a grand slam and a 5-2 lead.
Bruce Rondon came in for the top of the seventh and finished the job, using two strikeouts to work around three walks and nail down the save. Steve Crnkovich (1-0) earned the win thanks to a scoreless top of the sixth. Starter Antonio Cruz was also solid, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out five over five innings.
In the second game, West Michigan led from wire-to-wire.
Hernan Perez singled and scored on a groundout by Nowlin in the first inning, while Luis Castillo doubled and came around on a P.J. Polk single in the third to make it 2-0.
The Whitecaps’ lead was 2-1 when a fifth-inning rally put the game out of reach.
The Whitecaps continue the homestand with a visit from the Lansing Lugnuts at tonight at 6:35 p.m.