With the win against No. 19 ECU, the Tar Heels improved to 24-18 on the season.
More than 100 ECU fans traveled to Chapel Hill and made an early statement in the contest with chants of "ECU" before the opening pitch.
UNC coach Mike Fox said the crowd gave his players more incentive to win against their in-state rival.
"We played well there last year with all of their people so it got us fired up," Fox said. "We pitched and played defense tonight, and we know that's what we need to do in order to win."
But the Tar Heels also played good offense. In the third inning, UNC opened up a 1-0 game with four singles by Chad Prosser, Russ Adams, Ralph Roberts and Sean Farrell. Both Roberts and Farrell knocked in one run each for a
Farrell's next at bat in the fifth resulted in his third home run of the season and pushed the Tar Heels' lead to 4-1. Farrell finished 2-for-4 at the plate.
"When East Carolina comes to town, it's an intense rivalry," Farrell said. "Everyone has to step their game up a notch. I've been struggling a little bit, but I made a few adjustments. I felt real comfortable at the plate and hit a couple of balls well."
But ECU rallied in the seventh behind shortstop Lee Delfino's bat. The Colonial Athletic Association's Preseason Player of the Year laced a single to center field to bring in two runs and make it a one-run ballgame.