OMAHA, Neb. -- C.J Hinojosa was the talk of Omaha after becoming the first player to hit a home run at the 2014 College World Series on Tuesday. But his defense at shortstop continues to draw rave reviews, and more importantly, keep his Texas team in Omaha.

Hinojosa had a hand in 10 outs Friday afternoon against Vanderbilt – four putouts and six assists – in another Longhorns’ shutout victory, 4-0 against the Commodores.

It wasn’t always easy for him during a 2014 season that saw him make a team-high 17 errors. Hinojosa started Friday with a .945 fielding percentage. Partly because he gets to more balls than many shortstops in the country. His range is second to none among shortstops at the College World Series.

2014 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Top Performers: Day 8
Breeze: Trio stars in Vanderbilt's 10-inning thriller Photos
Kroll: Garrido sums up UT loss: ‘It’s a cruel game’
Breeze: Pitching fuels UVa.'s run to CWS Finals  Photos
Kroll: Ole Miss' well runs dry in loss to Virginia
Top Performers: Day 7
Cross: Texas takes advantage of Vandy mistakes
Kroll: Hinojosa remains talk of town  Photos
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Top Performers: Day 6
Cross: Bianco's boys have perfected elimination game
Kroll: Ole Miss advances behind Allen  Photos
Top Performers: Day 5
Kroll: Hinojosa's homer leads Longhorns  Photos
Cross: Hollingsworth tosses gem in second start of season
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Top Performers: Day 4
Kroll: Cavs find time for it all in win  Photos
Cross: Virginia shows off pitching depth in 15 innings
Cross: Ole Miss makes most of chances  Photos
Kroll: Texas Tech beaten at own game as CWS run ends
Ole Miss goes to the zoo   Meet the Bortles brothers
Top Performers: Day 3
Kroll: Vandy hits magic number for CWS win  Photos
Cross: Vanderbilt's Bueler answers the call in relief
Kroll: Texas makes the plays Louisville can't  Photos
Cross: How bullpens will help decide the CWS
Corey Ray & Ro Coleman: Chicago's Finest
Top Performers: Day 2
Kroll: Kirby, Papi lead Virginia to victory  Photos
Kroll: Morrison makes his pitch on CWS stage  Photos
Higgins: Ole Miss fans flock to Omaha
Hill: TD Ameritrade Park the stage -- and a star
Higgins: Texas enjoys off day at team barbeque
Hill: Plenty of dads spending Father's Day at the CWS
Vanderbilt's antics in the outfield
Top Performers: Day 1
Kroll: Vandy pushes right buttons in opening win  Photos
Hill: Louisville fans thrilled to be back in Omaha
Higgins: Stirring pre-game ceremony marks Flag Day
Kroll: UC Irvine debunks myth in Game 1 win  Photos
Hill: Despite team's fortunes, LSU fans show up in Omaha
CWS grounds crew is Omaha's unsung home team
Freshman, senior share thoughts on opening ceremony
Kroll: Five questions to get to know players and coaches
Higgins: Quizzing the coaches on CWS history
Hill: Players and coaches discuss favorite sports movies
Photo Essay: CWS contenders take their cuts
Photo Essay: Talented players dot CWS landscape
Team Capsules  |  Opening Round Matchups  |  Draft Picks
Highlights  |  Brackets: Interactive  Print
Just how good is his range? With two outs in the eighth inning and Tyler Campbell standing on second base threatening to score Vanderbilt's first run of the day, Hinojosa was playing on the outfield grass against Vince Conde. If Conde hit a ball to the leftside of the infield, he would at the very least, knock the ball down. Conde ended up flying out, head coach Augie Garrido’s confidence in Hinojosa’s glove still showed.

“Go around the infield -- plays made defensively by [Hinojosa] and teammates were getting the outs on time,” Garrido said after his team beat Louisville on Monday.

Monday’s starter Parker French said it best about the guys behind him.

“I think when I step out there every day, every game, this is probably the best defense in the country,” French said. “I can say that with confidence. Up the middle -- everywhere. When they start making those plays, [it[ makes me more of I guess a strike‑throwing machine because they were going to be aggressive. Why not keep the pitch count down, save the bullpen and let them work and just worry about my job throwing strikes and let them do their job which is pick it up and throw it? They're really good at that.”

Nine of the first 21 outs involved Hinojosa, a Spring, Texas native,  like when he threw out Vanderbilt designated hitter Nolan Rogers to end the seventh inning. His final assist came on the first batter of the ninth inning, on another chopper to shortstop. He’s certainly turned things around in the postseason, making just two errors in 10 games and only one at the College World Series. Hinojosa leads all players with 18 assists at the CWS.

Hinojosa is a big reason why the Longhorns have allowed just one run in their past three games and posted back-to-back shutouts against UC Irvine and Vanderbilt – the first team to allow zero runs in back-to-back games since Oregon State in 2006. In fact, Texas hasn’t allowed an opposing baserunner to touch third base in the past 19 innings. That’s right – more than two full games. Between the stellar pitching by the likes of starter Nathan Thornhill (8.0 IP, 6 hits, 1 BB, 5 SO) and the defense behind him, the Longhorns have rediscovered their stride just in time to allow only four runs in their first four CWS games – the third-fewest through four games in history.

“Obviously the game was dominated by [Thornhill] on the defensive side of it with good support from his teammates,” Garrido said. “It was pitching and defense, and we executed.”

That combination of pitching and defense works in tandem. Make good pitches and let the defense make plays behind you.

“From the infield perspective with with [Thornhill] pitching, we've got to be ready,” Hinojosa said. “There's going to be a lot of ground balls hit and as long as you're ready, you're seeing the ball off the bat and coach Tommy Nicholson helped us a lot with our first step making that a key focus for us because these guys pitching there's going to be a lot of ground balls.”

“The defensive side, it's just playing loose and the pitches that are thrown to the mitt, letting the defense work and throw strikes,” Texas centerfielder Mark Payton said. “That keeps the defense in the game and allows you to make plays.”

Friday, it wasn’t just a magnet in his glove. He must’ve had it in his back pocket, because in the first inning, Hinojosa was involved in one of the strangest plays at the College World Series. He came up with the bases loaded and one out when he lined a pitch up the middle in what looked like an opportunity for Vanderbilt to get out of the inning relatively unscathed with a double play. Except – it hit second base umpire Mark Uyl. After it was all sorted out, Hinojosa had his second RBI of the CWS and credited with a single.

Since the start of the NCAA tournament, everything seems to be going his way. Hinojosa extended his hitting streak to eight games with that infield single. Instead of a potential double play – or at the very least an out – Texas had its first run of the day.

“It may have been a tough double play,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “That's just anyone's guess. [Mark Uyl] has just got to work on his agility a little bit so he can move. But I don't know what would have happened had the ball gone by him. We may have gotten a break, I don't know, but there's nothing we can do about that.”

Hinojosa’s in the middle of everything in Omaha. And for the Longhorns to beat the Commodores again on Saturday and reach the CWS Finals, he better be again.