With one swing, Chris Leibold of the Newark Catholic High School baseball team might have brought the MSL-Ohio Division championship picture into focus.

With one swing, Chris Leibold of the Newark Catholic High School baseball team might have brought the MSL-Ohio Division championship picture into focus.

Only time will tell, but the senior's grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning last Thursday provided the margin in a 9-7 home victory over Licking Valley. The Green Wave still controls its own destiny entering the final two weeks of the regular season.

"I've never done that before, but I've certainly thought about winning a game this way. Who hasn't?" Leibold said. "I didn't even feel (the ball) hit the bat. That's when you know it's a pretty good hit.

"That was a crazy game. I'll never forget it."

Newark Catholic, which was first in the Division IV area coaches poll and eighth in the state poll led by Toronto last week, improved to 7-5 overall and stayed even with Lakewood in the loss column at 4-1 in league play entering a full slate of games last Friday, when the Green Wave played Whitehall and the Lancers played Licking Valley. The Panthers dropped a third league game in as many days to fall to 4-3 in the MSL-Ohio.

Lakewood, which plays at Newark Catholic on Tuesday, was 6-1 in league play after defeating Whitehall 8-1 last Thursday. The Lancers were second in the Division II coaches poll behind Canal Winchester.

"It's going to be a heck of a finish," Green Wave coach John Cannizzaro said. "(Licking Valley) could still recover and win this thing, and nothing that happens would really surprise me. It's going to get real interesting."

Leibold, a shooting guard and one of five Newark Catholic baseball players who helped the basketball team reach a regional final last season after finishing second to Lakewood in the MSL-Ohio, had been mired in a slump before having a combined four hits as Mount Vernon swept a doubleheader April 18. He entered the game last Thursday batting .258 but raised that to .333 with four hits, which included the home run he hit over the fence in right-center field on a hanging 1-1 curveball from Chase Houston. The Panthers had taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh on Houston's two-run single and then added an insurance run.

"I was confident something good was going to happen if I got to the plate again," said Leibold, a left-handed hitter who started the season 0-for-16 but recently had moved from eighth to third in the batting order nonetheless. "I was just hoping to get the ball through the infield, really."

Lakewood won the first-round game against the Green Wave 6-1 on April 6 by scoring three runs in the first inning off ace Garrett Clark, who pitched into the seventh inning last Thursday. He defeated Heath 9-2 on April 16.

The Bulldogs will visit on Monday before the Green Wave also plays host to Bexley on Wednesday. Newark Catholic then plays Thursday at Granville and Friday at Licking Valley, which lost to Heath 9-4 last Tuesday and to Bexley 4-1 last Wednesday.

Newark Catholic will play the Lions again Saturday at Capital.

"This league is just so tough," Leibold said. "It's going to be a fun finish."