It’s probably safe to say that Zach Hoffpauir’s weekend was better than yours.
As of last Saturday afternoon, the Stanford outfielder had yet to hit a home run in 2015. Less than 24 hours – and three home runs – later, he was leading the Card in the category.
Along the way, Hoffpauir rapped out five hits, drove in nine runs, hit a towering double off the top of the wall, made one fantastic running catch in right field that sent him tumbling over the bullpen wall, started a bench-clearing confrontation, and helped lead the Card to its first two conference wins.
So…how productive was your weekend?
Hoffpauir’s feats against California were good enough to earn him Pac-12 Player of the Week honors. It truly was the Zach Hoffpauir Show at Evans Diamond in Berkeley.
I enjoyed watching it. It was my pleasure to call the entire series with former Giant (and Arizona Wildcat) J.T. Snow on the Pac-12 Network. As the weekend went on, with each at-bat and each play. Hoffpauir’s presence and impact on the series got bigger and bigger.
On Saturday night with Stanford down 6-1, Hoffpauir blasted an opposite-field three-run shot in the eighth inning. Then, in the top of the ninth, Hoffpauir went opposite field again with another three-run homer. That tied the game at ten apiece, capping a six-run Cardinal comeback. The Bears ended up walking off with an 11-10 win in the bottom of the ninth, but Hoffpauir’s homers and his aforementioned running grab made him the star of the night.
Hoffpauir didn’t stop there. By the time he stepped into the box in the fifth inning on Sunday afternoon, it reached a point where I said on the air, “drop everything and watch. Zach Hoffpauir is coming to bat.” Hoffpauir promptly obliged our new viewers by sending one over the left field fence for a two-run home run, his third of the series. He also told the Cal pitcher and catcher all about it on his way around the bases, causing him to be separated from Cal’s catcher at home plate, and clearing the benches.
In the seventh inning on Sunday, he smoked a high fly ball to left that everyone that was going to be his fourth homer of the weekend. Instead, it just glanced off the top of the wall and back into the field of play. Hoffpauir thought it was gone, too…which is probably why he was thrown out at third trying to make it a triple. So even when he was getting retired, Hoffpauir was still must-see TV.
Last weekend’s eruption was a sight for Stanford’s sore eyes. Actually, seeing Hoffpauir on the field at all was a welcome sight for the Cardinal. After suffering a wrist injury in the second game of the year, Hoffpauir missed the next 23 games. His injury – along with a host of others, particularly to the starting rotation – was a big reason for Stanford’s slow start this season.
But if Berkeley is any indication, Hoffpauir may be back to form. And, in a few months, he may have a decision to make. As a junior with pop at the plate, range in the field, and an honorable mention All-Pac 12 season already under his belt, Hoffpauir’s name is likely to be called in this year’s upcoming MLB draft.
If he answers that call, not only does it affect Stanford Baseball, but it also changes things for Stanford Football, too. As a defensive back for David Shaw’s squad, Hoffpauir played well enough to earn honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors in football last year. With new faces all over the Treefense for 2015, Hoffpauir’s return to The Farm would be a boon for the football program.
Thing is, that may not be the direction Hoffpauir may be leaning in. He enjoys playing football, and many things could happen between now and the MLB draft, which begins on June 8. But in talking with my broadcast partner J.T. Snow before Sunday’s game, Hoffpauir admitted that it is a dream of his to be drafted by a big league baseball squad, that the physical toll football takes may be on his mind, and that hitting home runs is a little more fun than hitting ballcarriers. So this story, clearly, is far from over.
This has been a tough season for Stanford baseball so far. Injuries have decimated the team, forcing Mark Marquess to run youngsters onto the field, throwing his starting rotation into total chaos, and causing inconsistencies in the lineup and in the field. It took them ten tries to get their first Pac-12 win.
But if you need a reason to head to Sunken Diamond, you have one now. It’s called the Zach Hoffpauir Show. Catch it now…before it changes channels.********** ********** **********
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