Just when it looked as though Long Beach State was struggling, the 49ers came out swinging.
Long Beach, which had lost six of its previous nine games, hit four home runs against Cal State Fullerton Friday night at Blair Field and won the opener of a three-game Big West Conference baseball series, 11-4.
It was only the fourth loss in the last 31 games for the first-place Titans (28-7), who still lead the 49ers by 2 1/2 games in the conference with a 11-2 record. The two teams play again tonight at 6 and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The 49ers (18-14, 8-4) ripped Titan starter Adam Johnson for three home runs. Third baseman Greg Dobbs blasted two, one of them off reliever George Carralejo, who replaced Johnson in the seventh.
Jaeme Leal and Bobby Crosby also homered in the most decisive loss of the season for the Titans.
The Titans managed only six hits in seven innings off Long Beach's top pitcher, Mike Gallo (7-0). One of them was a double by Spencer Oborn that extended his hitting streak to 34 games. The school record is 38, set by Brent Mayne in 1988.
Johnson (5-2) gave up eight runs, five earned, on seven hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. The 49ers had 11 hits to seven for Fullerton. "We got a ton of big hits," Long Beach Coach Dave Snow said.
The four home runs are the most the Titans have given up in a game this season.
"They flat-out beat us," Titan Coach George Horton said. "They hit it better and pitched it better than we did. They capitalized on their opportunities better than we did."
The Titans got to Gallo for a run in the first and three more in the fifth, but it was not nearly enough.
In the first, David Bacani singled to center, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and took third when Oborn grounded out. Gallo walked Chris Beck, the leading Titan hitter, and Owens singled up the middle, driving in Bacani.
The 49ers came back for two runs in the second on two hits.
Johnson gave up a one-out walk to Leal, and Chris Wright doubled over the head of Beck at first base. The first run scored when Chris Grzecka grounded out. Wright scored later on A.J. LaBarbera's hit down the third-base line.
Leal's homer highlighted Long Beach's third inning. Terrmel Sledge, leading off the inning, reached on an error by Ryan Owens. Owens made a good stop at third on Sledge's ground ball down the line, but his throw to first was low. Johnson retired the next two batters, but hit Mike Hota. That set the stage for Leal's shot to right center.
Fullerton threatened in the fourth when Beck singled and Gallo gave up a one-out walk to designated hitter Sean Bischofberger, but the inning ended when Robert Guzman grounded to second base. The umpires called Bischofberger for interference going into second on the force, giving the 49ers the double play.
The Titans came back for three runs in the fifth after two were out to cut the lead to a run. Oborn's double drove in Jeff Gates, who had singled to lead off the inning. Beck drove in two more runs when he singled to center.
But Dobbs' two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth brought the 49ers back to a three-run lead, and Long Beach's four runs in the seventh left the Titans in deep trouble. Crosby and Dobbs had consecutive home runs in the seventh.
Snow thought Dobbs' homer in the fifth was the turning point.
"We were concerned about Fullerton's momentum at that point," Snow said. "You could feel Fullerton coming back."