A.J. Reed hit a three-run home run and Chandler Shepherd threw 5.2 innings of two-hit relief Tuesday to highlight No. 8 Kentucky's 11-5 win over Murray State in the Wildcats' soggy home opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
In a game whose start was delayed three hours by frequent downpours in Lexington, Shepherd (1-0) turned in his longest career outing in relief of starter Kyle Cody. The sophmore right-hander entered the game with UK and Murray tied 4-4 in the third inning and worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam. He allowed only two singles, an unearned run and struck out a career-high six.
"We played really good," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "I was really glad to see it for (Shepherd). His first couple of outings this year were a little rough. He is a really good competitor and has some really good pitches. Sometimes it takes a while to relax at the beginning of the season and let your skills play out, and that is what we did today."
Reed, a preseason All-America selection, got Kentucky (6-1) started at the plate with a three-run blast to right field in the first inning. It was the second home run of the season for the sophomore first baseman, who added a fourth RBI later in the game.
The Cats also got two hits each from shortstop Matt Reida and designated hitter Max Kuhn, who drove in a run. Kentucky's catchers combined for three RBI with Michel Thomas driving in two and Greg Fettes plating one. Outfielders Austin Cousino and Lucas Witt also had run-scoring hits for UK. Second baseman J.T. Riddle extended his hitting streak to 10 with a single and one RBI.
Murray State (4-4) was led by first baseman Mike Kozlowski and second baseman Dylan Wheeler, who each collected two hits.
Racers starter Tim Vonder Haar (1-1) took the loss, allowing five earned runs on six hits and two walks through 2.2 innings of work.
UK returns to action on Wednesday, playing host to Eastern Kentucky at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Network, live in Lexington on WWTF 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send freshman southpaw Ryne Combs (0-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound to face Eastern Kentucky freshman right-hander Chris Cervantes (0-1, 10.38 ERA).
• Fettes made his first career start at catcher.
• Cody made his first career start on the mound, allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks through 2.2 innings of work.
• Cousino has scored a run in every game this season.
• Witt collected his ninth RBI of the season.
• UK coach Gary Henderson has a 90-38 career mark at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Cats top Murray in soggy home opener
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