Baseball was turned upside down Thursday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
And it had little to do with the play on the field.
A come-from-behind 5-4 win by Myrtle Beach kept the bottom from dropping out of the Pelicans’ record as they avoided falling below.500 for the first time in the second half.
But the result was just part of the reason the franchise was far from being in arrears on this night.
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A well-publicized prostate exam undergone by Pelicans general manager Andy Milovich in the press box on Prostate Cancer Awareness Night made Myrtle Beach the center of attention in baseball for the evening, at least in the minor leagues.
The Today Show was buzzing about the exam Friday morning.
In the leadup to the exam, Milovich and the Pelicans received attention in numerous newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel and Washington Post, on SI.com and BaseballAmerica.com, and on ESPN, the Major League Baseball channel and radio stations in cities including San Diego, Tampa, Cleveland, Toronto, Chicago and Portland, Ore.
More publicity will surely follow.
The exam took place during the seventh inning stretch, as Milovich sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while bent over with his head out of the press box window. Though you couldn’t tell by his facial expression, he was delighted by the exposure the promotion got his team and the night’s causes.
The exam was the result of a challenge and promise Milovich made to Carolina Forest 10-year-old Fallon Emery, who is battling brain cancer. The Fierce Fallon Facebook Page has documented Emery’s courageous battle and spirit.
Milovich agreed to the exam with the stipulation that the Facebook Page had to reach 10,000 ‘Likes’ by noon Thursday. It hit that number by Monday afternoon.
“It’s one of the oddest nights in probably minor league baseball, but truthfully probably one of the most important,” Milovich said. “The attention it garnered for the franchise is fantastic, but the attention it garnered for Fierce Fallon, what we want to do for her, and for prostate cancer awareness is obviously the point, and I couldn’t be more excited to have been a part of it.”
Milovich’s exam was far from intimate. It occurred in front of a sellout crowd of 6,599, the Pelicans’ fifth sellout of the season.
They saw the Pelicans, who improved to 18-17 in the second half, score first for the first time in six games with a tally in the bottom of the first inning.
Chris Garia lined a one-out single, Nick Williams walked and Royce Bollinger plated Garia with a single. The Pelicans would load the bases with one out but couldn’t plate another run, as Williams was thrown out at the plate by Chih-Hsien Chiang following an Edwin Garcia fly out to short right field.
An RBI double to right-center field by Luis Mendez gave Myrtle Beach a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
The Keys (16-17) left the bases loaded in the fourth, but reached Pelicans starter Luis Parra for two runs in the fifth, which included a double by Tucker Nathans, RBI groundout by Johnny Ruettiger and RBI single by Trey Mancini. Frederick took the lead with two runs in the sixth on a two-out Ruettiger triple into the right-field corner.
Myrtle Beach pulled within a run in the bottom half of the sixth when Luis Mendez beat out an infield single to score Garcia, who had walked.
The Pelicans took the lead in the seventh when Royce Bollinger and Preston Beck each drew two-out walks and Garcia ripped a double off the left-field wall to score both runners.
Abel De Los Santos recorded his eighth save, allowing just one hit while striking out two over the final two innings.
The Pelicans (62-41 overall) begin a six-game road trip Friday in Salem, Va., and return to Pelicans Ballpark on Aug. 1 against Salem.