DARIEN - Neuqua Valley made one big decision to line up its rotation for a regional final. And then it went out and executed all the little things to make that a reality.
Craig Provow needed only 67 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout against No. 12 Romeoville, leading the No. 5 Wildcats to a 5-0 regional semifinal victory on Thursday in Darien. That means Neuqua (24-11) can start Indiana recruit Mike McKinley versus No. 4 Plainfield North on Saturday at Hinsdale South for a chance to advance in the Class 4A Lockport Sectional.
In a game that lasted only 83 minutes, Provow (2-2) allowed just four singles, two of which didn't even leave the infield. He drilled a hitter with a pitch, but did not walk any, and more than one Spartan was left slamming his bat to the ground in frustration.
The Neuqua staff had scouted Romeoville (19-14) several times and thought it found a good matchup.
"We thought Craig does a nice job of locating balls on the outer half," Neuqua coach Robin Renner said afterward. "I know they like it middle-in and they like to pull. So Craig throws a little cutter - it cuts about this much down the middle of the plate and it cuts to the outer half. (They) try to pull it and they miss, or they tap it out. We thought Craig gave us a better chance today against a team like that and Mike (will) give us a legitimate chance on Saturday."