Puzzle pieces that filled the sleeves of jerseys worn by the Quad-Cities River Bandits on Thursday had nothing to do with the team's ongoing five-game losing streak.
West Michigan scored the final six runs of a 6-2 decision that added to the River Bandits' Midwest League skid, but a Quad-Cities organization benefited from the sale of the unique jerseys worn by the Bandits when they took the field in front of a crowd of 4,033 at Modern Woodmen Park.
"We wish they would have brought us a little more luck, but our guys enjoy helping a good cause and they like wearing different uniforms," River Bandits manager Steve Dillard said. "We've worn red and black uniforms at home recently and I think our guys get a kick out of mixing things up."
Vera French, a Quad-Cities mental health center, will receive an estimated $2,600 from the auction of the jerseys the River Bandits wore as part of Autism Awareness Night. The jersey of Quad-Cities pitcher Jorge Rondon raised the most money Thursday, selling for $200.
The multi-colored puzzle logo is a national symbol of autism organizations, and the River Bandits teamed up with Vera French and the Quad-Cities Autism Center to educate fans in the Quad-Cities about autism, which impacts 1 out of every 150 people.
"It's a misunderstood issue that impacts a significant number of people and if we can do something to help raise awareness, it's something we're happy to be involved with," River Bandits general manager Kirk Goodman said.
The same special jersey was included on bobblehead likenesses of Hillary Clinton distributed at the game.
"If half the crowd here learned something tonight, then we're all a couple of steps ahead," Goodman said.
The River Bandits partner with nearly two dozen Quad-City area charities in a number of ways throughout the season, but typically limit the number of special jerseys that are auctioned off to a handful.
"We've found that if you do too many, it doesn't benefit the organization as much and we want them to be special," Goodman said.
Quad-Cities has just two jersey auctions scheduled this season. A Jimmy Buffett Night jersey will be featured as part of an August promotion benefiting Genesis Health System charities.
Last season, the River Bandits wore Quad-Cities throwback jerseys and St. Louis Cardinals replica jerseys to benefit local causes.
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West Michigan 6, Quad-Cities 2
RALLY TIME: After a strong five-inning start by the Bandits' Scott McGregor, the Whitecaps bunched together four sixth-inning singles to move ahead to stay. The right-hander exited after consecutive two-out singles by Ben Guiz and Billy Nowlin tied the game. Jordan Lennerton then gave West Michigan the lead, scoring Nowlin with a single to right-center off of reliever Ramon Delgado.
QUOTEBOOK: "I felt like I made some good pitches (in the sixth). They were just hitting them. They were hitting some decent pitches. Sometimes, that happens.'' - McGregor
INSURANCE PLAN: The Whitecaps added an insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, using a sacrifice fly by Wyatt in the seventh and a two-run homer in the eighth by Bryan Pounds to extend their margin to 6-2.
EARLY EDGE: Quad-Cities used a two-out, two-run double by Frederick Parejo down the left-field line in the fourth to break a scoreless draw. The hit was one of five the River Bandits managed in eight innings off Whitecaps starter Mark Sorenson, who won his seventh straight decision
QUICK STAT: The River Bandits are a combined 1-10 against Fort Wayne and West Michigan, the two first-half playoff qualifiers from the Eastern Division.
NEXT: West Michigan at Quad-Cities, 7 p.m., Zooperstars performance.