RICHMOND, Va. – Junior Joe Van Meter (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) hit his first home run of the season, but that was one of the few bright spots for Virginia Commonwealth University in a 19-4 loss to Western Kentucky Friday at The Diamond.

The Rams have dropped five straight to slip to 9-8 overall. The Hilltoppers are 14-5 this year.

VCU struck first against WKU starting pitcher Matt Ridings. Junior John Lenherr (Windom, Kan.) singled with one out, and Van Meter followed with an opposite field shot to right to provide the Rams with a 2-0 lead. However, that would be all the offense VCU could muster against Ridings, who scattered four hits and struck out three in six innings of work. He improved to 4-0.

The Hilltoppers broke open a 2-2 game in the top of the fifth when they touched up two VCU hurlers for seven runs. WKU added seven more in the sixth and three more in the seventh on the way to a blowout victory.

Kes Carter was 4-for-6 and Matt Payton drove in four runs for Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers also smacked three home runs during their 18-hit barrage.

VCU freshman Blake Hauser (Chesterfield, Va.) allowed eight runs, seven earned, and six hits in four and two-thirds innings of work. Hauser issued a season-high six walks in the contest and struck out one. He is 2-1.

Senior Matt Leskiw (Plains, Pa.) went 2-for-4 for the Rams.

The Rams and Hilltoppers return for game two of their three-game set on Saturday, March 20 at 3 p.m. at The Diamond.