Backs to the wall, Kentucky's Wildcats do what wildcats do.
They scratched and clawed.
Kentucky won its 14th home opener in a row, beating Murray State 11-5 Tuesday after the 4 p.m. start was delayed 3 hours, 2 minutes because of rain.
The Cats got big-time help from Chandler Shepherd, A.J. Reed and, in the seventh inning, just about everyone else.
Shepherd (1-0) came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, Kentucky clinging to a 5-4 lead.
"In that situation, I just wanted to come in the game and throw strikes, get ahead and hopefully get the ground ball, which happened," said the right-hander, who got Ty Stetson to ground into a force play. "The main thing that I wanted to focus on was just getting ahead."
Shepherd continued for a career-long 52⁄3 innings out of the bullpen to help UK improve to 6-1. He gave up an unearned run, two hits and three walks, striking out six.
Reed was the first of many Cats to answer the bell.
After Murray took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, he smacked a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning.
"We got our first two guys on, so I'm just looking for a pitch to drive," Reed said. "He threw me a first-pitch fastball, so I jumped on it, and good things happened."
Most of the other Cats got into the act in the seventh, when the 5-4 lead ballooned to 11-4.
UK sent 12 batters to the plate.
J.T. Riddle, extending his hitting streak to 10 games (including three last season), led things off with a single.
Pinch hitter Micheal Thomas delivered a two-out, two-run single up the middle.
Austin Cousino doubled in a run.
Reed and Riddle both were hit by pitches with the bases loaded.
Max Kuhn singled in the sixth run of the inning.
Murray (4-4) struck for a pair of two-out runs in the first.
"The first two innings were really about throwing fastballs up and flat, behind in the count," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "We didn't do a good job of getting ahead. We didn't do a good job of keeping the ball down. And when you don't, college baseball players are going to get hits."
Dylan Wheeler doubled down the left-field line and scored on Mike Kozlowski's single to right.
An error by pitcher Kyle Cody put runners on the corners, with Kozlowski then scoring on Noah Zipko's single to right-center.
Kentucky had a quick answer in the bottom of the inning.
A dropped third strike and a walk set the table for Reed to rip a first-pitch, three-run homer into the wind and over the right-field wall.
Murray took a 4-3 lead in the top of the second.
Nick Paradossi led off with a double down the left-field line. He scored one out later on Stetson's triple to left.
Stetson came home on Dylan Wheeler's two-out single that caromed off the third-base bag.
UK tied with a run in the bottom of the frame.
Matt Reida smacked a leadoff double, took third on Greg Fettes' single and, one out later, scored on Lucas Witt's single through the left side.
UK right-hander Cody, making his first collegiate start, retired the first two batters in the third before issuing two walks and hitting a batter.
Eastern Ky. at Kentucky
When: 4 p.m.
Radio: WWTF-AM 1580
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com