The Bulldogs (18-21, 7-9 BSC) blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning as the Flames (31-11, 9-4 BSC) rallied for three runs to take the lead at 6-5. Asheville knotted the game in bottom of the frame with a run-scoring pinch-hit single from Aaron Wright to tie the game at 6-6.
The win went to reliever Elliott Criss (2-2) who shut down the potent Liberty offense. He pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just one hit with four strikeouts.
In the bottom of the 13th, Jordan Lurie singled with one out. Bess hit a grounder to second that forced Lurie out at second but the throw from shortstop Zack Haley sailed into the Asheville dugout, allowing Bess to go to second on the error.
With two outs, Liberty reliever Jacob Kemmerer threw a ball in the dirt to Bulldog hitter Cody Adkins that Bess quickly went to third on the wild pitch.
With Kemmerer (3-3) ahead 0-2 at Adkins, he threw a pitch that bounced away from catcher Danny Grauer. As soon as the ball squirted away from Grauer, Bess raced for home and scored to give Asheville the dramatic victory.
The freshman center-fielder had a great day at the plate as he went 4-for-5 with a two-run triple. He stole his seventh base and advanced on four wild pitches by Flames pitching.
Liberty was led at the plate by Tyler Cox with three hits and two doubles. Bryan Aanderud and Haley added two hits each for the Flames.
The Bulldogs led 5-3 entering the top of the ninth inning but Liberty rallied. A run-scoring single from Alex Close cut the lead to 5-4. With two outs and two strikes on Dalton Sype, the third-baseman singled to right-field to score Aanderdud with the tying run at 5-5. Haley followed with a run-scoring single to put the Flames in front, 6-5.
But Asheville countered. Lurie walked and went to second on a sacrifice bunt from Bess. Wright then singled to right, scoring Lurie to tie the game at 6-6.
Liberty opened the scoring in the first inning on a run-scoring double from Cox. The Bulldogs struck for four runs in the third to grab a 4-1 lead. Bess's two-run triple highlighted the innings.
The teams will play the second game of their three-game series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.