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College Classic underway at Minute Maid

Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt among participating teams
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

Four of the top college baseball teams in the country, including three from the Southeastern Conference, will take over the home of the defending World Series champion Astros this weekend for the 18th annual Shiners Hospital for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.

The tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday, features five teams that played in the 2017 NCAA Regionals, with four teams advancing to Super Regionals: Kentucky (ranked No. 7 nationally), Mississippi State (No. 21), Vanderbilt (No. 12) and Sam Houston State. No. 24-ranked Houston, which hosted a regional last year, is also in the field, along with Louisiana-Lafayette.

Four of the top college baseball teams in the country, including three from the Southeastern Conference, will take over the home of the defending World Series champion Astros this weekend for the 18th annual Shiners Hospital for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.

The tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday, features five teams that played in the 2017 NCAA Regionals, with four teams advancing to Super Regionals: Kentucky (ranked No. 7 nationally), Mississippi State (No. 21), Vanderbilt (No. 12) and Sam Houston State. No. 24-ranked Houston, which hosted a regional last year, is also in the field, along with Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Cougars (5-2) are coming off a walk-off win over Texas Southern after taking two of three from Cal State-Fullerton in California last weekend. Houston is 20-28 all-time in the tournament, and it has seen 28 players named to the all-tournament team. The only year it didn't play in the College Classic was last year.

Kentucky will carry an 8-1 record and a ton of momentum into the weekend after rallying from a 3-0 deficit in the ninth inning to beat Western Kentucky, 4-3, on Tuesday night.

"For our guys to play at the World Series-champion ballpark, that's a big deal," Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said. "It will be another experience. We play three really quality opponents, that's another reason why I wanted to go. I want us to be tested."

Vanderbilt (9-1) has scored at least 15 runs in four of its past six games, including 19 runs Tuesday in a win over Austin Peay in Nashville, Tenn. Meanwhile, Mississippi State (3-5) and Louisiana-Lafayette (3-5) have struggled out of the gate this season. Sam Houston State is off to a 6-2 start.

Here's the schedule:

Friday: Vanderbilt vs. Sam Houston State (12:05 p.m. CT), Kentucky vs. Houston (3:35 p.m.) and Mississippi State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (7:05 p.m.).

Saturday: Sam Houston State vs. Kentucky (12:05 p.m. CT), Vanderbilt vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (3:35 p.m.), Houston vs. Mississippi State (7:05 p.m.).

Sunday: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Kentucky (11:05 a.m. CT), Mississippi State vs. Sam Houston State (2:35 p.m.) and Houston vs. Vanderbilt (6:05 p.m.).

Adult and youth daily tickets and three-day tournament passes are available for purchase online at astros.com/collegeclassic and at the Astros' box office. Fans can purchase premium tickets or group tickets, for groups of 20 or more, by calling 713-259-8030. Daily tickets purchased in advance are available for $19 for adults and $10 for youth (ages 14 and under). Three-day tournament passes can be purchased for $42 for adults and $24 for youth. Select parking in the Astros' controlled lots will be sold for $10 (Lot A).

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros